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C.    F.    G.    M^TERMAN,    M.A. 


"  We  cannot  but  acknowledge  that  nut  are  not  yet  at  rest :  nor 
can  ive  believe  ive  have  yet  enjoyed  or  seen  enough  to  accomplish 
the  ends  of  God." 


B.    W.    HUEBSCH 



(All  rights  reserved.) 




essays  in  this  book  represent  an  effort  made  in 
_  a  time  of  tranquillity,  to  estimate  forces  which  are 
making  for  change.  Some  are  attempts  to  examine  the 
ideals  of  the  age  immediately  past,  as  one  by  one  the 
voices  of  the  nineteenth  century  have  sunk  into  silence. 
Some  deal  with  the  life  of  the  present,  endeavouring  to 
reflect  some  immediate  impression  of  the  panorama  of 
life  as  it  passes  by.  And  some  are  concerned  with  the 
future,  seeking  to  interpret,  in  literature,  in  religion,  in 
social  ideals,  those  obscure  beginnings  which  are  to 
direct  the  progress  of  the  years  to  come. 

In  every  case  I  have  been  less  interested  in  the 
manner  of  saying  than  in  the  thing  said.  Literature 
has  only  been  called  in  to  pronounce  its  verdict  upon 
the  business  of  life.  It  is  this  business  of  life,  the 
experience  of  a  hurrying  present,  which  is  the  one 
absorbing  question :  the  actual  high  effort,  apathy  or 
despair  crowded  into  that  interval  when  to-morrow  is 
becoming  yesterday.  To  some  the  procession  passes 
as  a  pageant,  to  others  as  a  masquerade,  to  others  again 
as  a  funeral  march  with  the  sound  of  solemn  music. 
But  to  all  in  that  moment  a  world  has  perished,  a  world 
been  born. 



If  the  note  is  in  general  sombre,  with  the  sadness 
of  things  more  emphatic  than  their  splendour,  I  can 
only  plead  an  experience  more  than  usually  complex 
and  baffling,  spent  in  communication  less  with  the 
triumphs  of  civilisation  tlian  with  its  failures. 

Expectancy  and  surprise  are  the  notes  of  the  age. 
Expectancy  belongs  by  nature  to  a  time  balanced 
uneasily  between  two  great  periods  of  change.  On  the 
one  hand  is  a  past  still  showing  faint  survivals  of 
vitality ;  on  the  other  is  the  future  but  hardly  coming 
to  birth.  The  years  as  they  pass  still  appear  as  years 
of  preparation,  a  time  of  waiting  rather  than  a  time 
of  action.  Surprise,  again,  is  probably  the  first  im- 
pression of  all  who  look  on,  detached  from  the 
eager  traffic  of  man.  The  spectator  sees  him  per- 
forming the  same  antics  in  the  same  grave  fashion 
as  in  all  the  past:  heaping  up  wealth  which  another 
shall  inherit,  following  pleasure  which  turns  to  dust 
in  the  mouth,  and  the  end  weariness :  thinking,  as 
always,  that  he  will  endure  for  ever,  and  calling  after 
his  own  name  the  place  which  shall  know  him  no  more. 
But  surprise  passes  into  astonishment  in  confronting 
the  particular  and  special  features  of  the  age.  Here  is 
a  civilisation  becoming  ever  more  divorced  from  Nature 
and  the  ancient  sanities,  protesting  through  its  literature 
a  kind  of  cosmic  weariness.  Society  which  had  started 
on  its  mechanical  advance  and  the  aggrandisement  of 
material  goods  with  the  buoyancy  of  an  impetuous  life 
confronts  a  poverty  which  it  can  neither  ameliorate  nor 
destroy,  and  an  organised  discontent  which  may  yet 
prove  the  end  of  the  Western  civilisation.  Faith  in 
the  invisible  seems  dying,  and  faith  in  the  visible  is 
proving  inadequate  to  the  hunger  of  the  soul.  The 
city  state,  concentrated  in  such  a  centre  as  London, 



remains  as  meaningless  and  as  impossible  to  co-ordinate 
with  any  theory  of  spiritual  purposes  as  the  law  of 
gravitation  itself. 

Experience  in  the  heart  of  such  a  universe  of  neces- 
sity takes  upon  itself  a  character  of  bewilderment. 
Those  whom  I  loved  have  died  :  and  the  miracle  of 
their  parting  has  seemed  more  strange  than  the  miracle 
of  their  presence.  I  have  seen  so  many  sunsets,  so 
many  radiant  dawns.  This  man  has  failed  and  that 
succeeded,  and  both  have  grown  tired  of  it  all.  "What 
right  have  I  to  grieve,"  as  Thoreau  said,  "who  have 
not  ceased  to  wonder?" 

And  I  think  that  I  am  not  alone  in  longing  for  a  time 
when  literature  will  once  more  be  concerned  with  life, 
and  politics  with  the  welfare  of  the  people  :  and  religion 
fall  back  again  upon  reality :  and  pity  and  laughter 
return  into  the  common  ways  of  men. 




AFTER  THE   REACTION          .  1 

DE  MORTUI8: 87 

WILLIAM  ERNEST  HENLEY   .            .            .            .  .89 

J.  HENRY  SHORTHOUSE    .  .  .  .  .45 

HENRY  SIDGWICK        .            .            .            .            .  .51 

FREDERIC  MYERS             .....  60 

GEORGE  GISSING        .            .            .           .            .  .68 

SPENCER  AND  CARLYLE  :  A  COMPARISON            .           .  74 

DISRAELI  AND  GLADSTONE  :  A  CONTRAST     .           .  .97 

DOLLING        .  .  .  .  .        115 

BEFORE  THE  DAWN:  .  .  ,  .145 

JUNE  IN  ENGLAND  .  .  .  .        147 


THE  BURDEN  OF  LONDON  ....        159 

THE  NEW  REVOLUTION          .....  167 
THE  BLASPHEMY  OF  OPTIMISM    .  .  .        173 

CHICAGO  AND  FRANCIS          .....  180 
THE  MAKING  OF  THE  SUPERMAN  .  .  .        190 



THE  CHALLENGE  OF  TIME     .  .  .  .213 


THE  RELIGION  OF  THE  CITY  .  .  .257 

IN  PERIL  OF  CHANGE  .  301 




"  Yea,  if  no  morning  must  behold 
Man,  other  than  were  they  now  cold, 
And  other  deeds  than  past  deeds  done, 
Nor"  any  near  or  far-off  sun 
Salute  him  risen  and  sunlike-souled, 
Free,  boundless,  fearless,  perfect,  one, 

Let  man's  world  die  like  worlds  of  old, 
And  here  in  heaven's  sight  only  be 
The  sole  sun  on  the  worldless  sea." 



LITERATUEE  as  detached  as  is  the  literature 
of  to-day  from  the  middle  and  working  classes, 
the  unconscious  rulers  of  England,  would  appear  to  he 
independent  of  the  actual  processes  of  political  and  social 
change.  A  few  vigorous  story-tellers,  a  group  of  writers 
of  pleasant  verse,  some  young  and  clever  journalists, 
will  initiate  a  literary  "movement";  which  will  take 
itself  seriously,  parade  a  pomp  and  circumstance,  and 
continue  until  the  respectabilities  of  advancing  age,  and 
often,  alas  !  the  revelations  of  a  failing  inspiration,  have 
once  again  demonstrated  the  triumph  of  time  and  change. 
Yet  this  emphasis  of  aloofness  is  not  the  whole  truth. 
Literature,  indeed,  has  no  direct  concern  with  the  dust 
of  the  party  struggle,  with  bills  of  licensing  or  local 
government.  But  the  larger  transitions  of  the  period, 
the  spirit  which  underlies  some  definite  upheaval,  whose 
appearance  in  the  world  of  action  astonishes  the  un- 
thinking, is  certain  to  find  itself  first  articulate  in  the 
universe  of  art.  Estimate  in  that  universe  a  vital  move- 
ment of  revolt  from  some  accepted  tradition  or  ideal; 
you  will  be  estimating  a  force  which  in  no  long  time  is 
destined  to  enter  into  the  play  of  outward  affairs  and  to 
mould  the  courses  of  the  world. 

No  better  example  could  be  advanced  than  the  history 


of  the  Reaction  in  the  later  years  of  the  nineteenth 
century.  Weary  of  the  long  effort  of  reform,  a  little 
bored  by  the  strenuousness  of  the  appeal  to  disinterested 
causes,  conscious  of  the  possession  of  unparalleled  means 
of  enjoyment,  and  of  great  possessions,  the  nation  was 
evidently  prepared  for  a  new  spirit,  a  new  inspiration. 
That  spirit  and  inspiration  came  with  the  Reaction ; 
whose  literature  some  fifteen  years  ago  revealed  the 
only  confident  and  secure  proclamation  of  any  kind 
of  definite  appeal.  As  the  former  enthusiasms  subsided 
and  the  former  systems  were  found  unsatisfying ;  as,  in 
a  word,  the  new  England  disentangled  itself  from  the 
old ;  so  the  message  proclaimed  by  a  few  men  of  genius, 
and  diffused  through  a  thousand  obscure  channels  in 
Press  and  platform,  became  suddenly  arresting :  and 
now  stands  crystallised  as  the  product  characteristic  of 
those  extraordinary  years. 

The  contrast  was  glaring  between  the  literature  of  the 
earlier  Victorian  era  and  the  literature  of  the  closing 
days.  The  old  had  been  cosmopolitan.  The  new  was 
Imperial.  The  old  had  proclaimed  the  glory  of  the 
"  one  imperishable  cause,"  allied  through  all  lands ; 
the  struggle  for  liberty  against  the  accumulated  atheisms 
of  a  dozen  centuries.  The  new  was  frankly  Tory ;  with 
the  Tory  scoffing  at  the  futilities  of  freedom,  described 
now  as  a  squalid  uprising  of  the  discontented  against 
their  masters.  The  old  had  been  "  Liberal  "  ;  in  that 
wide  definition  including  such  extremes  as  a  Browning 
and  a  Tennyson.  The  new  branded  Liberalism  as  but 
a  gigantic  fraud  by  which  the  weak  deluded  the  strong 
into  an  abnegation  of  their  natural  domination.  The 
old  had  been  humanitarian  ;  preaching,  if  with  a  some- 
what thick  voice,  yet  with  a  sanguine  air,  the  coming  of 
the  golden  age.  War  would  be  abandoned  as  irrational. 



A  free  and  universal  trade  would  bind  the  nations  into  one 
brotherhood.  The  sweet  reasonableness  of  the  English 
character  would  shine  forth  its  radiance  through  all 
the  envious  nations  of  the  world.  The  new  had  no  such 
hopes  or  dreams.  It  revolted  always  against  the  domina- 
tion of  the  bourgeois.  It  estimated  commerce  as  a  means 
of  conflict  and  a  weapon  of  offence.  It  clamoured  for  the 
ancient  Barbarism ;  and  delighted  in  war ;  and  would 
spread  an  English  civilisation,  not  by  the  diffusion  of 
its  ideas  but  by  the  destruction  of  its  enemies.  It  was 
a  message  of  vigour  and  revolt  congruous  to  a  nation 
wearied  of  the  drabness  of  its  uniform  successes ;  with 
the  dissatisfaction  and  vague  restlessness  which  come 
both  to  individuals  and  communities  after  long  periods 
of  order  and  tranquillity.  To  the  friends  of  progress  the 
dominance  of  such  a  spirit  seemed  of  the  elements  of 
tragedy.  Literature,  after  its  long  alliance  with  the 
party  of  reform,  had  deliberately  deserted  to  the  enemy. 
In  the  minds  of  the  few  faithful  the  dismay  was  some- 
what similar  to  that  aroused  in  the  defenders  of  the 
inviolate  city,  when  the  Shekinah  departed  from  the 
courts  of  the  temple  and  passed  over  to  the  camp  of  its 

This  new  spirit  of  the  Reaction  gathered  itself 
especially  round  two  men,  each  possessing  more  than 
a  touch  of  genius — Mr.  W.  E.  Henley  and  Mr.  Budyard 
Kipling.  Mr.  Henley's  denunciation  of  the  accepted 
codes  of  life,  the  thirst  for  blood  and  violence  of  one 
physically  debarred  from  adventure,  became  reflected  in 
a  hundred  eager  followers,  who  plied  the  axe  and 
hammer  of  sneer  and  gibe  round  the  humanitarian 
ideal  and  the  house  of  the  good  citizen.  Mr.  Kipling's 
proclamation  of  the  Imperial  race  co-operating  with  God 
in  the  bloody  destruction  of  alien  peoples  was  interpreted 



into  the  commonplaces  of  a  journalism  demanding  above 
all  things  sensation.  The  toiler  of  the  cities  in  his  life 
of  grey  monotony,  labouring  for  another's  wealth,  found 
existence  suddenly  slashed  with  crimson.  And  every 
morning  the  astonished  clerk  was  exalted  by  the  intelli- 
gence of  his  devastation  of  Afghanistan,  or  civilisation 
of  Zanzibar,  or  slaughter  of  ten  thousand  fantastic 
Dervishes  in  a  night  and  a  day. 

It  was  a  literature  of  the  security  of  a  confident 
triumph;  with  that  quality  which  distinguishes  the 
work  of  a  dawn  from  the  work  of  a  declining  day. 
Its  appeal  was  to  enduring  elements  of  human  emotion. 
It  proclaimed  the  supremacy  of  England,  a  mother, 
worth  dying  and  living  for;  her  children  seeking 
danger  as  a  bride,  searching  all  the  confines  of  the 
world;  encountering  and  joyfully  mastering  enemies 
and  natural  forces,  the  winds  and  the  seas  and  the 
terrors  of  elemental  things.  There  were  visions  of  ships 
steering  through  deep  waters  and  harvests  gathered 
from  all  seas  ;  of  the  pioneers  whose  bones  have  marked 
the  track  for  the  advancing  army  that  this  might  follow 
where  these  had  trod  ;  of  the  flag  of  England  descried 
amid  mist  and  cold  or  under  the  Southern  sun  as  every- 
where triumphant  by  the  testimony  of  all  the  winds  of 
heaven.  It  was  a  literature  of  intoxication ;  adequate 
to  a  nation  which,  having  conquered  the  world  in  a  fit  of 
absence  of  mind,  had  suddenly  become  conscious  of  the 
splendour  of  its  achievement.  Small  wonder  that  to 
the  eyes  of  the  men  of  the  time  there  came  with  it 
something  of  the  force  of  a  gospel ;  as  the  boundaries  of 
their  thought  lifted  to  disclose  larger  horizons  than  they 
had  ever  known. 

It  was  a  literature,  on  the  other  hand,  of  a  rather 
forced    ferocity;    of  an   academic   enthusiasm   for  the 



noise  and  trappings  of  war;  the  work  of  men  who 
despised  death  because  there  was  present  in  their 
minds,  not  death  as  a  reality  but  only  death  as  an 
idea.  It  preached  a  boastful  insularity ;  with  a  whole- 
hearted contempt  for  disloyal  Ireland  or  the  cretins  of 
the  continent.  The  Briton  was  revealed  to  himself,  a 
majestic  figure,  lord  of  the  earth,  who,  with  the  approba- 
tion of  God,  but  by  the  power  of  his  own  right  arm,  had 
gotten  himself  the  victory.  It  presented  a  figure  of  the 
Imperial  race,  like  Nietzsche's  Overman,  trampling  over 
the  ineffective,  crushing  opposing  nations,  boasting  an 
iron  supremacy,  administering  an  iron  justice.  It 
thought  scorn  of  all  the  ideals  of  philanthropy  of  the 
middle  classes,  with  their  timidities  and  reticence  and 
dull  routine ;  of  the  poor  with  the  clumsiness  of  their 
ineffectual  squalor.  "  More  chops,  bloody  ones  with 
gristle," — so  a  critic  has  summed  up  in  Mr.  Kipling's 
own  words,  his  demand  from  life.  It  neglected  and 
despised  the  ancient  pieties  of  an  older  England,  the 
little  isle  set  in  its  silver  sea.  Greatness  became  big- 
ness ;  specific  national  feeling  parochial.  Imperial 
Destiny  replaced  national  well-being ;  and  men  were 
no  longer  asked  to  pursue  the  "iust"  course,  but  to 
approve  the  "inevitable." 

The  thing  lasted  only  so  long  as  it  could  keep 
divorced  from  real  things  and  confined  to  its  world 
of  illusion.  While  British  wars  consisted  of  battues  of 
blacks,  with  the  minimum  of  loss  and  pain  to  ourselves, 
the  falsity  of  the  atmosphere  of  Mr.  Kipling's  battle  tales 
was  undiscoverable.  The  blind  and  gibbering  maniac  at 
the  end  of  "  The  Light  that  Failed,"  who  shrieks, 
"Give  'em  Hell,  men,  oh,  give  'em  Hell,"  from  the 
security  of  an  armoured  train,  while  his  companions 
annihilate  their  enemies  by  pressing  the  button  of 



a  machine  gun,  seemed  not  only  a  possible  but  even 
a  reputable  figure.  The  sport  of  such  "  good  hunting  " 
— "  the  lordliest  life  on  earth  " — was  not  recounted  by 
the  historian  of  the  hunted,  the  tribes  of  the  hills  whose 
land  was  laid  desolate  and  wells  choked  up  and  palm- 
trees  cut  down  and  villages  destroyed,  who  were  joyfully 
butchered  to  make  an  Imperial  holiday.  Their  verdict 
upon  such  "hunting"  might  have  been  less  exuberant. 
As  Newman  said  in  his  defence  of  Catholics  in  England, 
"Lions  would  have  fared  better,  had  lions  been  the 

With  the  outbreak  of  real  war  and  some  apprehension 
of  its  meaning  the  spell  snapped.  Directly  Mr.  Kipling 
commenced  to  write  of  the  actual  conflict  in  South 
Africa,  the  note  suddenly  jarred  and  rang  false.  His 
judgment  was  found  to  be  concerned  not  with  war  but 
with  the  idea  of  war ;  the  conception  in  the  brain  of  a 
journalist.  The  jauntiness  and  cocksureness,  the  surface 
swagger,  were  suddenly  confronted  with  realities ; — 
Death  and  Loss  and  Longing.  "  There  was  a  good 
killing  at  Paardeberg;  the  first  satisfactory  killing  of 
the  whole  war  "  ; — this  attitude  immediately  disclosed 
its  essential  vulgarity;  a  grimace  from  the  teeth  out- 
wards ;  war  as  viewed  from  Capel  Court  or  Whitechapel, 
or  any  other  place  where  men  are  noisy  and  impotent. 
Heal  war  gave  indeed  a  revelation  of  high  sacrifice,  the 
coming  of  the  "  fire  of  Prometheus  "  into  the  common 
ways  of  men;  flaming  up  under  the  stress  of  a  vast 
upheaval  in  the  conflict  of  life  and  of  death.  It  was  not 
given  to  the  Apostles  of  the  New  Imperialism  to  estimate 
or  even  to  understand  those  deeper  tides  of  the  human 
soul.  Their  conception  was  of  war  carried  on  in  the 
spirit  of  the  music-hall  comedy  ;  the  men  at  the  close  of 
the  struggle  wiping  their  hands  which  have  successfully 



gouged  out  the  eyes  of  their  enemies,  while  they  hum  the 
latest  popular  song.  It  was  left  for  another  poet  of  a 
different  spirit,  Mr.  Henry  Newbolt,  to  voice  the  common- 
place of  an  unchanging  tragedy  in  the  only  memorable 
verse  called  forth  by  this  three  years'  struggle. 

With  the  coming  of  a  war  which  it  had  so  furiously 
demanded,  the  literature  of  the  Eeaction  fell,  first  into 
shrillness,  then  into  silence.  Read  to-day,  the  whole 
thing  stands  remote  and  fantastic,  the  child  of  a  time 
infinitely  far  away.  Of  its  authors,  some  are  dead ;  and 
some  continue  a  strange  shadowy  life  in  an  alien  time. 
Mr.  Kipling  compiles  such  mournful  productions  as 
"  Traffics  and  Discoveries."  But  the  pipe  fails  to 
awaken  any  responsive  echoes.  Even  those  who  before 
had  approved  now  turn  away  their  heads.  He  appears 
like  one  dancing  and  grimacing  in  the  midst  of  the 
set  grave  faces  of  a  silent  company.  And  so  of  the 
others.  Mr.  Street,  one  of  the  briskest  of  the  disciples 
who  once  were  young,  contributes  long  letters  on  Tariff 
Reform  to  the  columns  of  the  Times.  They  suggest 
nothing  so  much  as  the  return  from  beyond  the  grave 
of  the  tenuous  phantoms  of  the  Greek  heroes.  The 
spectacle  is  not  without  its  pathos.  We  have  not 
changed,  these  writers  may  complain.  Here  is  the 
same  music  which  you  once  approved,  which  once 
moved  you  clumsily  to  caper  in  the  market  place. 
What  has  caused  the  charm  suddenly  to  cease  ? 

It  has  ceased — is  the  reply — because  your  world  of 
phantasy  has  been  judged  and  condemned  by  real 
things ;  because  with  that  judgment  a  new  Spirit  is 
dawning  in  England. 

This  new  Spirit  should  make  its  first  appearance  in 


literature.  And  the  question  immediately  arises:  can 
we  estimate  to-day  anything  confident  and  vital  which 
can  be  interpreted  as  the  work  of  the  pioneers,  the 
Spring  of  a  Summer  to  be? 

We  shall  find,  I  think,  on  examination  two  classes  of 
such  writings.  The  first  is  of  those  who  growing  up 
under  the  spirit  and  dominance  of  the  Reaction,  have 
yet  refused  to  give  it  their  allegiance ;  a  Literature  of 
protest  coloured  by  a  sense  of  isolation  from  the  ideals 
of  its  age.  The  second  is  of  those  developing  when 
that  dominance  is  passing  away,  and  who  exhibit  there- 
fore all  the  security  and  triumph  which  comes  from  the 
conviction  of  a  winning  cause. 

Of  the  first,  the  most  noteworthy  name  is  of  one  who 
has  always  stood  apart  and  alone,  whose  verse  is 
everywhere  conscious  of  a  popular  indifference  and 
estrangement.  The  work  of  Mr.  William  Watson  will 
be  judged  in  the  future  with  that  of  Mr.  Rudyard 
Kipling  as  representing  a  conflict  of  ideas  which  go 
down  to  the  basis  of  man's  being.  The  very  methods 
reflect  the  diversified  ideals.  The  one  is  detached, 
elusive,  cold ;  standing  apart  upon  the  height ;  content 
in  a  serenity  and  a  fastidious  taste  in  words.  The 
other  is  coloured,  barbaric,  human ;  tumid  and  rhetori- 
cal; moving  and  rejoicing  in  the  every-day  world; 
vital,  appealing  and  alive.  The  one  "magnificently 
unperturbed,"  preaches  always  a  vehement,  if  austere, 
virtue ;  judging  the  present  by  the  ancient  traditions  of 
an  older  time,  by  a  past  consecration  of  effort  and 
sympathy  in  disinterested  service.  The  other  beats 
with  the  emotion  of  a  crowd ;  from  the  midst  of  which, 
and  as  its  voice,  he  directs  men's  gaze  towards  an 
illimitable  future. 

And  the  changes  of  the  time  could  be  no  better 


illustrated  than  in  the  comparison  of  two  appeals. 
In  "The  Purple  East,"  contrasted  with  "The  Seven 
Seas,"  the  divergence  is  manifest  hetween  one  who 
is  speaking  the  mind  of  a  nation  and  one  ohviously 
heyond  its  sympathies.  Mr.  Watson  demanded  with 
the  violence  of  despair  that  England  should  accept  the 
obligations  of  her  deliberate  responsibility,  and  embark 
in  the  spirit  of  the  crusaders  upon  the  vindication  of 
an  unchanging  justice.  And  the  note  of  a  baffling 
indifference  and  defeat  is  over  all  the  volume.  Mr. 
Kipling  sang  of  the  glories  and  the  greatness  of  an 
Empire  swollen  into  one-eighth  of  the  habitable  world 
and  splashed  around  the  seven  seas ;  and  every  line  of 
his  vigorous  verse  seems  punctuated  with  the  applause 
of  invisible  multitudes. 

Ten  years  after  appear  two  other  volumes,  almost 
contemporaneous.  The  time  has  changed.  The 
wheel  has  come  full  circle.  In  "  For  England  "  there 
breathes  through  every  page  the  consciousness  of  vindi- 
cation, an  appeal  to  a  judgment  which  even  now  has 
proclaimed  an  honourable  acquittal.  In  "  The  Five 
Nations"  the  rhetoric  has  passed  into  bombast;  an 
audience  slipping  away  or  turning  their  backs  is  every- 
where apparent.  The  sneers  at^E.difference,  the  heaped- 
up  insults  upon  "fools"  and  "oafs,"  the  jibes  and 
abuse  hurled  upon  a  nation  which  will  not  rise  to  the 
new  gospel,  stamp  upon  the  whole  mournful  volume  the 
consciousness  of  failure.  In  the  one  is  the  jealousy  of 
the  discarded  favourite  : — 

"And  ye  vaunted  your  fathomless  power  and  ye  flaunted 

your  iron  pride, 

Ere  ye  fawned  on  the  younger  nations  for  the  men  who 
could  shoot  and  ride. 


Then   ye  returned   to   your  trinkets;   then  ye  contented 

your  soul 
With  the  flannelcd  fools  at  the  wicket  and  the  muddied 

oafs  at  the  goal." 

In  the  other  is  the  dignity  of  confidence  secure  in  an 
ultimate  verdict  which  is  independent  of  man's 
applause  : — 

"  Friend,  call  me  what  you  will :  no  jot  care  I : 
I  that  shall  stand  for  England  till  I  die. 

*  *  *  * 

The  England  from  whose  side  I  have  not  swerved ; 
The  immortal  England  whom  I,  too,  have  served, 
Accounting  her  all  living  lands  above, 
In  Justice,  and  in  Mercy,  and  hi  Love." 

With  the  passing  of  the  bitter  days  we  may  hope 
for  an  increased  consciousness  of  sympathy  with  an 
England  immortal  and  secure,  restored  to  sanity  and 
desirable  life  after  the  fever  of  its  dreams. 

Next  to  the  work  of  this  isolated  figure  you  may  turn 
to  the  work  of  a  school.  One  original  inspiration  has 
survived  through  all  the  clamorous  days,  in  that 
particular  literature  of  Ireland  which  has  disdained  the 
noise  of  the  Reaction.  That  literature  boasts  many  men 
and  women  of  rare  and  delicate  talent :  one,  Mr.  George 
Russell,  of  a  real  if  remote  genius ;  and  one,  Mr.  "W.  B. 
Yeats,  with  the  power  of  a  universal  appeal. 

Mr.  Yeats  stands  for  the  genius  of  the  Celt;  not 
unmixed,  indeed,  with  a  mysticism  culled  from  other 
sources ;  but  more  than  any  other  individual  writer  now 
representing  the  soul  of  a  nation.  He  is  the  outstand- 
ing figure  in  a  literary  movement  which  is  one  of  the 
few  vital  things  in  the  world  of  to-day.  The  movement 



is  the  child  of  a  Nationalism  which  is  the  antithesis 
of  Imperialism,  whose  scene  is  set  in  one  of  the  great 
tragic  failures  of  the  world.  From  the  heart  of  that 
failure,  from  a  race  as  it  would  seem  visibly  dying 
in  its  own  land,  Mr.  Yeats  and  his  comrades  pro- 
claimed their  judgment  of  the  forces  to  which  has  been 
given  domination.  This  "  progress,"  with  its  noise 
and  bustle,  its  material  opulence,  its  destruction  of 
all  old  and  beautiful  and  quiet  things,  stand  ever- 
lastingly condemned  by  one  whose  first  search  is  for 
the  Hose  of  an  undying  beauty,  whose  concern  is 
only  with  the  ardours  and  hungers  of  the  soul.  He 
looks  out  upon  the  tumult  and  the  shouting,  the  noise 
and  splendour  of  passing  things.  He  learns  that 
Tenderness,  Compassion,  Humility,  those  white- winged 
angels  of  healing,  find  no  place  in  this  hot  and  heavy 
air.  He  stands  aside,  an  apostle  of  defeat ;  of  defeat 
yet  triumphant  in  its  fall ;  deliberately  proclaiming 
allegiance  to  the  vanquished  cause.  "  They  went  out 
to  battle  but  they  always  fell  "  is  written  over  all  this 
haunting  and  musical  verse,  this  haunting  and  appealing 
prose.  And  into  the  old  legends,  mingled  of  dreams  and 
shadows,  from  twilights  and  dim  dawns,  the  mystery 
and  the  sadness  of  moving  waters  and  hidden  places, 
the  wind  among  the  reeds,  the  rose-leaves  falling  in  the 
garden,  he  has  woven,  with  something  of  the  quality  of 
magic,  all  the  sorrow  of  an  elegy  over  a  doomed  and 
passing  race. 

Beauty  and  the  love  of  beauty,  the  old  things, 
visions  in  the  sunset,  dreams  by  the  fire  light,  are 
passing  from  the  world.  The  note  of  that  passing  and 
of  the  judgment  of  the  destructive  forces  enters  into  a 
kind  of  exultant  rejection  of  a  civilisation  which  carries 
even  in  its  victory  the  seeds  of  decay;  which  has 



received  its  heart's  desire  and  leanness  in  the  soul. 
Here  is  the  defiance  of  one  who  notes  that  all  the  noise 
and  triumph  of  his  conquerors  will  one  day  also  become 
ashes  and  a  little  dust. 

So  the  dominant  note  of  the  work  of  his  attractive, 
wayward  genius  is  this  sadness  and  appeal.  All  the 
soul's  longing  turns  from  the  call  of  the  wind  and 
shadowy  waters,  from  a  world  ravaged  by  change  and 
time,  to  the  "Land  of  the  ever  young,"  and  the  "Land 
of  Heart's  Desire."  "  It  is  time  now  to  go  into  the 
glens,"  he  can  say  with  Don-nacha'Ban,  "  for  gloom  is 
falling  on  the  mountains  and  mists  shroud  the  hills," 
"  There  is  enough  evil  in  the  crying  of  wind  "  ;  "  For 
the  world's  more  full  of  weeping  than  you  can  under- 
stand "  :  so  runs  the  record  of  ruin  and  pain : — 

"We  who  still  labour  by  the  cromlech  on  the  shore, 
The  grey  cairn  on  the  hill  when  day  sinks  drowned  in  dew, 
Being  weary  of  the  world's  Empires  bow  down  to  you. —  " 

Weariness  of  the  world's  Empires ;  the  "  vanity  of 
Sleep,  Hope,  Dream,  endless  Desire " ;  a  defiant 
estrangement  from  all  the  courses  of  the  world,  become 
visibly  flat,  stale  and  unprofitable,  are  written  over  all  this 
literature  of  protest  and  sorrow.  Beauty  passes  as  a 
dream ;  and  "  we  and  the  labouring  world  are  passing 
by  "  ;  and  the  consolation  chiefly  rests  in  the  knowledge 
that  one  day  all  will  have  gone,  good  and  evil,  man's 
laughter  and  his  tears,  the  yearning  which  can  never 
be  satisfied.  "God's  wars"  will  end,  not  in  victory, 
but  in  silence. 

"  And  when  at  last  defeated  in  His  wars, 
They  have  gone  down  under  the  same  white  stars, 
We  shall  no  longer  hear  the  little  cry 
Of  our  sad  hearts,  that  may  not  live  nor  die." 


In  his  later  work,  indeed,  Mr.  Yeats  has  proclaimed  a 
real  Eastern  Nihilism.  He  sings  the  triumph  of  Death 
and  nothingness.  Du  Bellay's  "  Le  Grandeur  du 
Rien  "  is  set  up  as  the  consummation  of  all  things. 
And  the  soul  rejoices  that  even  "Le  Grand  tout  "  into 
which  "  all  other  things  pass  and  lose  themselves  "  is 
"  some  time  itself  to  perish  and  pass  away."  In  that 
remarkable  play,  "Where  there  is  Nothing,"  which 
perplexed  the  inhabitants  of  Kensington  on  its  perform- 
ance and  provided  food  for  the  humours  of  the  dramatic 
critics,  there  is  an  almost  passionate  expression  of  this 
hatred  of  "  making  things,"  this  hunger  for  the  primi- 
tive abyss  and  void.  Paul  Ruttledge,  the  hero,  is  a 
kind  of  wild  Tolstoy  preaching  the  return,  not  to  nature, 
but  to  nothingness.  He  seeks  satisfaction  first  in  the 
escape  from  the  artificiality  of  society  to  life  with  the 
tinkers  on  the  open  road ;  later  in  the  asceticism  of  the 
monastery ;  and  then  again  to  the  simplicities  of  the 
ruined  abbey  and  bare  subsistence  from  day  to  day. 
His  followers  who  have  been  attracted  by  his  preaching 
totally  misunderstand  this  new  gospel  of  despair,  and 
are  found  planning  to  build  up  again  all  which  he  has 
destroyed.  In  the  passage,  which  forms  the  climax  of 
the  play,  the  apostle  of  Nihilism  proclaims  his  faith  : — 

"  Oh !  yes,  I  understand,  you  would  weave  them 
together  like  this  (weaves  the  osiers  in  and  out),  you 
would  add  one  thing  to  another,  laws  and  money  and 
Church  and  bells,  till  you  had  got  everything  back 
again  that  you  had  escaped  from.  But  it  is  my  business 
to  tear  things  asunder  like  this  (tears  pieces  from  the 
basket),  and  this,  and  this —  " 

"  At  last,"  he  cries,  in  the  crypt  of  the  church,  "  we 
must  put  out  the  light  of  the  Sun  and  of  the  Moon,  and 
all  the  light  of  the  World  and  the  World  itself.  We 



must  destroy  the  World ;  we  must  destroy  everything 
that  has  Law  and  Number,  for  where  there  is  nothing, 
there  is  God." 

Yet  at  other  times  this  assertion  of  the  ultimate 
triumph  of  cold  and  darkness  gives  place  to  a  hope 
that  the  weak  things  of  the  world  may  even  at  the 
end  overcome  the  strong;  and  Beauty  and  Romance 
and  the  old  Desires  of  the  heart  and  the  Vision 
of  far  spiritual  horizons  return  again  into  the  ways 
of  men.  "  The  movement  of  thought,"  Mr.  Yeats 
proclaims,  "  which  has  made  the  good  citizen,  or  has 
been  made  by  him,  has  surrounded  us  with  comfort  and 
safety  and  with  vulgarity  and  insincerity.  One  finds 
alike  its  energy  and  its  weariness  in  churches  which  have 
substituted  a  system  of  morals  for  spiritual  ardour,  in 
pictures  which  have  substituted  conventionally  pretty 
faces  for  the  disquieting  revelations  of  sincerity,  in 
poets  who  have  set  the  praises  of  those  things  good 
citizens  think  praiseworthy  above  a  dangerous  delight 
in  beauty  for  the  sake  of  beauty." 

But  while  the  old  is  crumbling  the  new  is  building. 
Sometimes  the  hope  is  triumphant  that  "  the  golden 
age  is  to  come  again  and  men's  hearts  and  the  weather 
to  grow  gentle,  as  time  fades  into  eternity  " ;  and  at 
times  a  confidence  awakens  in  the  coming  of  "a 
change,  which,  begun  in  our  time  or  not  for  centuries, 
will  one  day  make  all  lands  holy  lands  again." 

Mr.  Yeats,  in  part  as  the  expression  of  a  national 
movement,  more,  perhaps,  through  the  compelling  force 
of  his  talent,  has  attained  even  under  the  uncongenial 
skies  of  the  Reaction  some  recognition  of  his  sincerity 
and  power.  An  English  author,  Mr.  H.  W.  Nevinson, 
no  less  individual  and  arresting,  and  far  less  remote 



from  ideals  definitely  English,  has  waited  longer  for 
acceptance.  Like  Mr.  Yeats,  he  belongs  to  a  period  of 
protest — protest  against  a  dominant  spirit  whose  de- 
parture seemed  far  distant.  This  protest  has  taken 
varied  forms.  He  has  translated  into  literature  the 
appeal  of  the  poor  against  the  cruel  indifference  and, 
perhaps,  more  cruel  "  charity  "  of  the  rich.  He  has 
voiced  the  protest  of  the  little  nations  with  their 
particular  civilisations  against  an  Imperialism  which 
rolls  as  a  Juggernaut  car,  guided  by  sightless  eyes, 
not  deliberately  but  clumsily,  over  all  their  variegated 
lives.  He  has  set  up  for  judgment  by  the  ancient,  way- 
ward things  of  man's  existence,  its  high  ardours,  its 
delight  in  the  charged  spirit  of  emotion,  love  and 
battle  and  the  open  road,  a  civilisation  spreading  its 
by-laws  and  decencies  over  all  the  broken  lands, 
and  estimating  its  progress  by  its  expenditure  upon 
sanitation  and  the  dimensions  of  its  public  lavatories. 
Against  such  "progress"  he  has  appealed  always  for 
those  elements  of  transfiguring  flame  by  which  alone 
man  apprehends  something  of  life  and  its  purposes. 
Behind  "  the  set  grey  life  and  apathetic  end,"  he  has 
discerned  the  flare  of  the  fires  of  Prometheus.  Beneath 
the  noise  of  the  cities  he  can  hear  the  pipe  of  Pan 
among  the  reeds.  In  the  midst  of  experience,  set  in 
custom  and  routine,  he  can  exalt  the  moments,  rare  and 
imperishable,  in  which  the  "  pent-up  spirit "  breaks 
through  into  Eternity. 

Mr.  Nevinson  is  a  child  of  Shrewsbury  and  Oxford,  of 
both  of  which  he  has  written  with  that  love  for  particular 
places  which  is  the  essence  of  the  spirit  of  patriotism. 
He  has  lived  in  a  block-dwelling;  and  from  that  life 
came  the  writing  of  "  Neighbours  of  Ours,"  the  best 
volume  of  tales  which  ever  took  as  their  theatre  of 

17  c 


action  the  desolate  and  fascinating  region  of  the  "East 
End."  The  contrast  between  the  Reaction  and  the 
newer  spirit  is  conspicuous  in  the  comparison  of  Mr. 
Nevinson's  stories  of  the  life  of  the  poor  with  the 
fruitful  crop  of  pictures  of  slum  life — the  mean  street, 
the  Jago,  "  Badalia  Herodsfoot "  or  "  'Liza  of  Lambeth  " 
— which  developed  under  the  inspiration  of  that  insistent 
tyranny.  The  cleverness,  the  essential  ignorance  of 
the  journalist  who  prowls  through  the  streets  of  poverty 
as  he  would  prowl  through  the  interior  of  China  seeking 
copy; — with  the  same  eye  for  picturesque  effect  and 
the  same  contempt  for  its  peoples,  splashing  on  the 
canvas  his  hard  yellows  and  purples — is  revealed  in 
its  insolence  by  the  work  of  one  who  has  lived  in  sym- 
pathy and  comradeship  with  those  who  have  failed. 
Mr.  Nevinson's  stories — notably  the  "  St.  George  of 
Eochester  "  and  "  Father  Christmas  " — may  be  com- 
mended to  all  who  would  understand  the  meaning  of 
tenderness  and  a  man's  compassion  for  the  men  and 
women  and  children  who  are  trampled  under  in  the 
modern  struggle,  the  crowd  whose  acquiescence  is  more 
tragical  than  its  despair. 

From  the  homes  of  poverty  Mr.  Nevinson  passed  into 
the  larger  world ;  to  see  cities  and  men ;  and  everywhere 
the  strong  triumphant  and  the  weak  suffering.  He  was 
present  at  the  pitiful  comedy  of  the  thirty  days'  war  in 
Greece ;  present  also  at  the  more  pitiful  tragedy  of  the 
destruction  of  two  free  nations  in  South  Africa  amid 
the  heroism  of  the  one  side  and  the  other.  From  these 
and  the  lessons  learnt  in  them,  from  the  "  things  seen  " 
in  the  great  moments  of  life  and  the  quiet  interludes 
*'  Between  the  Acts,"  he  has  collected  those  volumes 
of  impression  and  appeal  which  have  revealed  his  power 
in  literature. 



Two  elements  mingle  in  all  his  work.  The  one  is 
pagan,  the  plea  of  Pan,  the  protest  of  the  "  Savage 
Soul."  It  is  life  passion  protesting  against  the  cramp- 
ing boundaries  of  convention  and  dead  things.  The 
other  is  Pity,  learnt  by  the  older  gods  in  the  watching 
of  the  human  tragedy  through  so  many  hurrying  cen- 
turies ;  pity  for  all  who  find  themselves  with  the  few 
against  the  many,  crushed  by  the  clumsiness  and  violence 
of  the  world.  The  one  thing  which  appears  to  him 
intolerable  is  the  rotting  at  ease.  The  one  tragedy  is 
the  burning  out  of  high  emotion  into  a  little  heap  of 
ashes.  "  To  grow  fat  and  foul  in  clubs  and  country- 
houses,"  is  the  nightmare  of  one  of  his  characters,  "  till 
I  slime  away  in  the  funeral  of  an  elderly  country  gentle- 
man who  had  been  in  the  army  once."  Against  this 
vision  of  the  faint-hearted  he  exalts  the  company  of  the 
warrior  saints.  "Life  piled  on  life  were  all  too  little 
for  the  unquenchable  passion  of  my  eyes."  The  praises 
of  a  mechanical  civilisation  leave  him  cold.  "  To  set 
two  bulging,  flat-footed  gentlemen,"  is  his  verdict,  "  to 
stand  on  a  flagstone  instead  of  one,  seems  an  unworthy 
aim  for  Evolution  after  all  its  labours." 

Pan  is  not  dead.  He  but  waits,  a  little  contemptuous 
of  it  all  till  the  tyranny  be  overpast.  Even  in  the 
heart  of  tranquillity  and  rational  order  he  can  still  be 
found  disguised  :  a  wanderer  :  abiding  his  time  and  sure 
of  his  ultimate  triumph. 

He  appears  in  Greece,  his  old  home,  with  all  the 
pageant  of  an  unchallenged  beauty,  hill  and  heather, 
and  violet  sea.  He  is  found  again  by  the  ancient  wall 
across  Britain  marking  the  boundaries  of  another 
Empire  which  once  thought  itself  immortal.  His 
laughter  startles  the  Cathedral  close  as  he  mocks  the 
anger  of  the  Canon  against  his  servant,  Elizabeth,  for 



her  transgression  with  her  soldier-lover.  He  is  present 
with  the  new  knowledge  of  pity  upon  the  war-scarred 
slopes  of  Waggon  Hill  above  Ladysmith  in  the  clear 
night  after  the  storm  of  men  and  elements,  watching 
over  the  bodies  of  the  dead. 

The  contrast  between  this  vision  on  the  hillside,  the 
mingled  sorrow  and  rejoicing  over  the  body  of  a  dead 
peasant,  with  any  of  Mr.  Kipling's  latest  tales,  "  The 
Captive,"  or,  "  Private  Capper,"  will  reveal  the  meaning 
of  a  change.  All  the  music-hall  song  and  cleverness 
have  vanished  from  the  horizon  of  this  poor  sightless 
body.  Not  in  this  lies  its  greatness :  but  in  that 
Divine  Fire  which  entered  into  the  heart  of  him  as  he 
moved  through  the  slow  routine  of  his  toil,  and  drove 
him  out  here  from  his  dear  home  into  the  battle  in 
passionate  response  to  the  call  of  the  Fatherland  :  and 
has  left  him  here  at  evening,  with  all  the  story  told ; 
the  dust  gathering  on  his  lips,  silent  in  the  summer 

The  author  will  re-echo  the  protest  of  Pan  against 
the  plaint  of  the  priest  at  man's  seeming  wickedness. 
Surveying  the  long  course  of  history,  he  will  testify 
with  something  approaching  awe  to  an  endurance  and 
indomitable  will  which  raises  him  above  the  level  of  the 
older  gods.  There  is  a  passage  in  this  testimony  not 
unworthy  to  be  placed  with  Lamennais's  "  Hymn  of  the 
Dead,"  or  Stevenson's  awful  vision  in  "  Pulvis  et 

"  They  appear  and  are  gone.  Like  shipwrecked  boys 
they  are  cast  upon  the  shoals  of  time,  and  drop  off  into 
darkness.  No  research  of  history,  no  deciphering  of 
village  tombs  can  ever  recover  them.  We  think  that 
somewhere  they  may  still  lie  nestled  up,  with  all  their 
age  about  them ;  but  even  darkness  holds  them  no  more, 



They  stood  on  this  flying  earth,  we  see  their  footsteps, 
we  hear  the  thin  ghost  of  their  voices,  and  on  the  stones 
lies  the  touch  of  their  dead  hands,  but  they  are  nowhere 
to  be  found  at  all.  They  knew  how  short  their  dear  life 
was,  yet  they  filled  it  with  labour  and  unrecorded  toil. 
Morning  and  night,  through  their  little  space  of  minutes, 
they  struggled  and  agonised  to  keep  on  living  and  feed 
their  children  for  the  struggle  and  agony  of  a  few 
minutes  more.  The  sun  blasted  them,  ice  devoured 
their  flesh,  their  mouths  were  mad  with  thirst,  hunger 
twisted  them  with  cramps,  plague  consumed  them,  they 
rotted  as  they  stood,  bolts  of  torture  drove  through 
their  brains,  their  bodies  were  clamped  into  hoops ;  in 
battle,  in  child-bed  they  died  with  extremity  of  pain. 
Yet  they  endured,  and  into  the  chinks  and  loopholes 
of  their  misery  they  crammed  laughter  and  beauty  and 
a  passion  transfiguring  them  beyond  the  semblance  of 
the  gods." 

'Tis  a  sombre  picture ;  yet  not  without  its  triumph. 
"  Let  us  leave  it  to  the  priests  to  marvel  at  men's 
wickedness,"  he  cries  at  the  end.  "  Over  any  such 
thing  as  love  or  laughter  in  the  heart  of  man  I  could 
stand  astonished  with  admiration  throughout  the  life- 
time of  a  god." 

The  work  of  these  writers  is  written,  in  Mr.  Watson's 
phrase,  "in  estrangement."  Over  all  is  the  conscious- 
ness of  battle  upon  a  losing  side.  They  have  kept  the 
faith  in  a  dark  hour  when  all  the  world  seemed  against 
them.  The  tumult  swept  past  them.  They  stood  alone, 
alien  in  spirit  from  the  company :  from  the  noisy  rout, 
which  seemed  the  procession  of  an  unending  day.  With 
the  visible  passing  of  all  this  clamour  has  come  the 
growth  of  a  newer  spirit,  with  an  ardour  and  buoyancy 



lacking  in  those  who  suffered  from  its  domination. 
Such  is  the  spirit  of  those  younger  writers  who  first 
have  apprehended  that  the  Reaction,  instead  of  being 
living  and  dominant,  was  become  at  heart  dead  and 
sterile.  Of  such,  two  of  the  most  vigorous  to-day  are 
Mr.  Hilaire  Belloc  and  Mr.  Gilbert  Chesterton. 

Mr.  Belloc  has  produced  work  which  is  excellent 
in  itself  and  more  excellent  in  its  promise  of  better 
things  to  come.  He  exhibits  especially  two  qualities 
always  rare  in  English  writing — the  quality  of  rhetoric 
and  the  quality  of  irony.  His  earlier  works,  studies 
of  the  Revolution,  Danton  and  Robespierre,  are  full  of 
the  triumph  of  human  personality  over  the  influences 
of  outward  things.  His  work,  like  the  architecture  of 
that  Middle  Age  which  he  loves  so  ardently,  reveals 
the  union  of  this  spirit  of  romance  with  the  spirit 
of  laughter.  The  high  roofs  and  spires  are  mingled 
with  the  gargoyles  and  grotesques,  and  all  the  humour 
and  aspiration  which  gave  its  life  to  the  greatest 
century  which  the  world  has  ever  seen.  He  will  pass 
from  the  record  of  romance  to  the  roaring  satire  of 
"Dr.  Caliban,"  or  collaboration  with  Mr.  Chesterton 
in  the  ridiculing  of  the  Tariff  Reform  Commission. 
High  spirits  and  a  kind  of  elemental  energy  are  charac- 
teristic of  all  his  work.  No  present-day  writing  conveys 
so  much  the  impression  of  a  huge  enjoyment  in  its  prepa- 
ration. Much  of  Mr.  Belloc' s  humour  is  indeed  recondite, 
written  to  please  himself  and  for  the  few  who  will  under- 
stand ;  the  decent  citizen  but  becomes  conscious  that 
some  one  is  laughing  at  him  as  indignant  he  hurries  by. 

In  "  The  Path  to  Rome,"  the  most  popular  of  all  his 
books,  this  vitality  is  everywhere  present.  Youth,  its 
sincerity,  its  self-sufficiency,  its  vigour  and  hope  and 
enormous  dreams,  is  present  in  all  this  record  of  pil- 



grimage.  As  the  traveller  swings  out  from  Toul  in  the 
sunset  by  the  Nancy  gate  and  strikes  in  a  bee-line 
across  the  backbone  of  Europe  to  the  goal  of  his 
wandering,  he  pours  out  all  his  experience  of  outer  and 
inner  things.  He  makes  up  songs,  and  sings  them  as 
he  journeys,  in  dispraise  of  heretics  or  praise  of  God. 
He  finds  companionship  in  the  common  people,  the 
people  of  the  road,  the  people  of  the  villages,  away 
from  the  dust  of  the  cities.  He  apprehends  "the  solid 
form  of  Europe  under  him  like  a  rock "  ;  unchanged 
and  permanent,  beside  which  all  the  noise  of  progress 
appears  but  vaporous  and  transitory. 

In  the  story  of  "Emmanuel  Bui-den,"  Mr.  Belloc's 
ironical  method  has  attained  its  clearest  expression. 
The  elaborate  satire  penetrates  every  page ;  from  the 
pompous  parody  of  the  title,  through  the  nonsense  of 
the  preface,  to  the  Burden  genealogies  designed  in  the 
futile  exactitude  of  the  three-volume  biography.  To 
nine  out  of  ten,  reading,  as  they  think,  a  dull  and 
straightforward  narrative,  all  this  will  appear  very 
tedious.  But  in  the  underlying  spirit  there  is  a 
marked  and  momentous  change  from  the  spirit  of  the 
social  satire  of  fifteen  years  ago.  The  literature  of 
the  Reaction  found  the  subject  of  all  its  humours  in  the 
middle-class  tradesman.  It  was  never  tired  of  mocking 
at  his  outlook,  his  contempt  for  art  and  literature  and 
all  ideas,  his  confinement  within  the  grooves  of  sectarian- 
ism and  the  making  of  money.  To  these  clever  young 
men  Mr.  Grundy,  the  husband  of  the  dictator  of  the 
suburbs,  was  the  subject  of  an  unfailing  ridicule.  They 
pelted  him  with  epigram.  They  caricatured  his  decen- 
cies and  devotions.  They  rolled  the  poor  old  gentleman 
in  the  gutter  and  departed  laughing  hugely  at  their  own 
smartness  and  his  bleats  of  indignation, 



With  Mr.  Belloc  the  process  is  reversed.  Satire  has 
come  over  to  the  other  side.  Over  against  the  new 
wits,  the  cleverness  engaged  in  the  intervals  of  self- 
indulgence  in  running  (or  ruining)  an  Empire ;  with  its 
surface  sparkle  and  its  inner  emptiness  and  frivolity, 
Mr.  Grundy  with  his  tenacity,  his  simplicity,  his  austere 
devotion  to  duty,  appears  as  an  entirely  reputable  figure. 
Mr.  Burden  is  Mr.  Grundy,  the  "honest  man  and  good 
citizen,"  ironmonger  of  Thames  Street.  In  his  side 
whiskers  and  frock-coat,  as  depicted  by  Mr.  Chesterton, 
with  his  impossible  mid- Victorian  residence  at  Avon- 
more,  Alexandrovna  Road,  Upper  Norwood,  with  his 
forty  years'  daily  devotion  to  his  trade,  "his  home, 
manner  and  habit  of  life  seemed  to  me  who  knew  him 
to  be  always  England,  England."  "  To  see  him  open 
his  umbrella  was  to  comprehend  England  from  the 
Reform  Bill  to  Home  Rule." 

Against  this  old  and  passing  England,  the  England 
which  had  built  up  the  great  heritage  of  Empire,  Mr. 
Belloc  exhibits  the  dismal  crowd  who  have  entered  into 
that  goodwill  and  seems  determined  upon  its  destruc- 
tion. Here  are  the  children  of  the  old,  mocking  at  the 
limitations  of  their  fathers ;  cosmopolitan  financiers  of 
Semitic  origin,  exploiting,  ostensibly,  remote  marshes, 
in  reality  the  British  public,  under  the  sonorous  clap- 
trap of  "Empire  Expansion";  broken  down  relics  of 
the  feudal  system  compelled  to  re-establish  their  shat- 
tered fortunes ;  the  new  yellow  journalism ;  and  the 
rank  and  file  of  greedy  persons  of  all  classes  who 
rushed  into  the  flotation,  as  clergymen  and  society  ladies 
and  respectable  country  gentlemen  rushed  into  the 
gigantic  gambling  in  South  Africans  which  preceded 
the  Jameson  Raid.  These  are  the  figures  which  fill 
the  foreground  of  the  flotation  of  the  M'Korio  Delta 



Development  Co.  Experience  of  the  bitter  food  of  those 
astonishing  nineties  in  England,  the  Hooley  scandals, 
the  Liberator,  the  Chartered  Company,  Whitaker  Wright, 
are  woven  into  a  satire  in  which  the  restraint  of 
the  irony  scarcely  veils  the  passionate  protest  against 
all  this  new  corruption  of  a  nation  marching  down 
calamitous  ways. 

In  such  a  morass  of  foulness  Mr.  Burden  is  engulfed. 
He  finds  himself  immediately  in  the  toils,  surrounded 
by  vague  forces  of  evil.  There  is  nothing  definite. 
The  outline  moves.  As  soon  as  he  strikes  out,  the 
walls,  which  seemed  to  be  closing  around  him,  part 
aside  and  elude  his  blows.  The  business  is  of  a  kind 
to  which  he  is  unaccustomed.  The  suavity  and  plausi- 
bility of  his  confederates  are  equal  to  all  his  approaches. 
There  is  a  spirit  in  the  air,  in  the  public  Press,  around 
the  office  of  the  company,  a  miasma  which  poisons  the 
blood  and  turns  the  balance  of  the  brain.  Although 
the  shares  still  stand  high  and  there  is  outward  pros- 
perity, the  conviction  deepens  that  he  is  in  the  grasp  of 
unclean  forces.  He  is  troubled  in  the  daytime  with  a 
haunting  sense  of  shame,  at  night  by  monstrous  dreams. 
The  attempt  of  his  colleagues  to  "  freeze  out "  his 
friend,  Mr.  Abbott  (another  absurd,  early- Victorian 
figure),  who  had  refused  to  "  come  in,"  produces  a 
climax.  The  poor,  bewildered  mind  breaks  under  the 
strain.  Mr.  Burden,  feeling  actually  in  the  presence 
of  a  crowd,  "  the  massed  forces  of  this  new  world 
surging  against  him,"  in  one  great  scene  of  fury  de- 
nounces all  his  fellow-directors  as  rogues  and  thieves 
and  scum,  and  reels  home  to  Upper  Norwood  to  die. 
The  death  scene  is  not  inadequate  to  life's  perpetual 
irony.  On  the  one  hand  is  the  outward,  pitiful  and 
grotesque  incident :  a  stout  old  man,  muttering  gibberish, 



being  put  to  bed  by  the  knife-boy  and  the  cook.  On  the 
other  is  the  inward  grandeur,  Death  and  his  armies  and 
majesty  visibly  present  in  this  suburban  villa,  and 
present  also  the  three  great  Angels,  "  the  Design  and 
the  Justice  and  the  Mercy  of  God." 

The  M'Korio  flourishes.  Mr.  I.  Z.  Barnett,  who  is 
chief  promoter,  becomes  Lord  Lambeth.  The  shares 
rise.  But  away  in  a  remote  suburb  they  have  buried 
Emmanuel  Burden,  Merchant,  of  Thames  Street  and 
Upper  Norwood  (for  whom,  one  is  relieved  to  hear,  Mr. 
Belloc  "has  no  fears  at  the  Judgment  seat");  and 
with  him  they  have  buried  the  older  England. 

This  remarkable  work  in  some  sense  gathers  up  all 
the  threads  of  remonstrance  into  one  deliberate  im- 
peachment of  the  spirit  of  the  Reaction  ;  the  fine  fruits 
of  that  "Imperialism"  which  ran  like  a  species  of 
fluid  madness  through  the  veins  of  England  during  the 
late  disastrous  years.  Memorable  in  itself,  it  is  more 
memorable  as  a  kind  of  pioneer  of  the  revolt  which 
is  essaying  a  return  to  sanity,  and  the  broken  tradition 
of  reform. 

The  rise  of  Mr.  Chesterton  in  the  public  estimate  has 
exhibited  the  most  sudden  growth  of  all  recent  repu- 
tations. While  still  on  the  right  side  of  thirty,  he 
leapt  into  a  position  of  which  older  men  might  well 
be  envious.  His  early  work,  "  Greybeards  at  Play," 
a  volume  of  fantastic  verse,  "  The  Wild  Knight," 
serious  poetry  of  remarkable  originality  and  power, 
"  The  Defendant,"  a  collection  of  paradoxical  essays, 
revealed  only  to  the  few  the  presence  of  a  new 
writer  and  a  new  method.  His  life  of  "Browning," 
however,  both  in  its  merit  and  its  definite  challenge, 
evoked  a  universal  testimony  that  here  was  something 



which,  whether  you  liked  it  or  not,  was  henceforth  to  be 
reckoned  with  in  literature.  Since  then  have  followed 
"  Twelve  Types,"  and  "  Watts,"  and  a  novel,  once 
again  of  daring  originality,  "  The  Napoleon  of  Netting 
Hill " — a  parable  of  the  perpetual  survival  of  the  spirit 
of  patriotism,  however  mystical  and  irrational,  against 
all  the  forces  of  ridicule  and  common  sense.  The 
output  continues  of  an  astonishing  fertility  in  daily  and 
weekly  and  monthly  magazines.  It  is  these  outpour- 
ings of  himself,  stripped  of  all  reticence,  which  have 
earned  for  Mr.  Chesterton  the  bulk  of  his  fame.  He 
loves  the  very  breath  of  controversy.  Open  any  news- 
paper interested  in  the  things  for  which  he  cares  :  you 
will  have  a  good  chance  of  finding  Mr.  Chesterton  in  the 
midst  of  a  lively  argument  against  a  host  of  opponents, 
with  a  calm  confidence  in  his  Tightness,  an  unfailing 
good  temper,  a  boisterous  delight  in  the  shrewd  blows 
given  and  taken.  You  will  find  him  simultaneously 
protesting  against  Dr.  Clifford  conducting  a  campaign 
against  Romanism  under  the  guise  of  an  attack  upon 
the  Education  Acts ;  explaining  to  Mr.  Blatchford  and 
Mr.  McCabe  the  impossibility  of  Agnosticism,  and  his 
envy  of  their  simple  belief;  or  expounding  to  an 
audience  inarticulate  with  wrath  the  necessity  of 
desiring  Russia's  success  in  the  war  against  Japan. 

Beneath  all  there  is  no  mere  love  of  paradox  or 
intellectual  agility,  but  a  very  definite  philosophy  of 
life.  As  the  attitude  of  Mr.  Yeats  was  one  of  protest, 
so  that  of  Mr.  Chesterton  is  one  of  acceptance.  The 
denial  of  life,  the  longing  of  a  fatigued  age  for  nothing- 
ness and  the  great  Void,  is  to  him  a  fundamental  atheism 
and  blasphemy.  Not  "where  there  is  nothing,"  but 
"where  there  is  anything,"  there  "is  God."  He  is  a 
mystic  and  an  optimist,  entirely  satisfied,  as  he  swaggers 



down  Fleet  Street,  that  all  things  are  very  good.  With 
Whitman  he  can  protest,  "  No  array  of  terms  can 
express  how  much  at  peace  I  am  about  God."  To 
many  this  boisterous  content  appears  as  an  offence 
and  irreverence.  To  such  he  appears  of  those  who  are 
too  readily  at  ease  in  Zion.  To  others  this  revolt  from 
the  denials  of  life  has  come  with  something  of  the  nature 
of  an  inspiration. 

He  is  all  for  acceptance  of  the  things  that  are,  and 
the  revelation  through  these  of  the  things  that  endure. 
In  all  experience  the  present  becomes  a  transfigured 
past ;  to  the  few  only,  as  to  this  writer,  that  transfigura- 
tion has  been  immediately  accomplished.  He  has  no 
controversy  with  the  results  of  modern  progress,  the 
city,  in  slum  or  suburb.  As  wild  and  flaming  meanings 
call  to  him  from  beneath  that  dull  surface  as  any  appeal 
in  ancient  forest  or  the  voices  of  the  mountains  and  the 
sea.  The  great  city  he  finds  as  something  "  wild  and 
obvious."  The  "casual  omnibus"  wears  "the  primal 
colours  of  a  fairy  ship."  The  lights  in  the  dark  "  begin 
to  glow  like  innumerable  goblin  eyes."  Bermondsey  is 
decked  with  fairy  bubbles  for  gas-lamps  and  haunted 
with  Presences  of  good  and  evil.  The  door-knockers  of 
Clapham,  as  he  gazes  at  them,  writhe  into  strange  shapes, 
the  fat,  red,  polished  pillar-boxes  shout  their  mystical 
meaning  to  the  skies.  Hardly  a  hair's  breadth  below 
the  cellars  of  Kensington  flare  the  ancient  elemental 
fires.  He  is  intoxicated  by  the  "  towering  and  tropical 
visions  of  things  as  they  are,"  the  "  gigantic  daisies,  the 
heaven -consuming  dandelions,  the  great  Odyssey  of 
strange-coloured  oceans  and  strange-shaped  trees,  of 
dust  like  the  wreck  of  temples,  and  thistledown  like  the 
ruin  of  stars."  Day  by  day  the  seeing  eye  beholds  God 
renewing  his  ancient  rapture.  The  wild  Knight  in  his 



quest,  hearing  "the  crumbling  creeds,  like  cliffs  washed 
down  by  water,  change  and  pass,"  finds  "  all  these  things 
as  nothing";  confident  that  the  turn  of  the  road  will 
reveal  the  goal  of  all  his  wandering. 

11  So  with  the  wan  waste  grasses  on  my  spear, 
I  ride  for  ever  seeking  after  God. 
My  hair  grows  whiter  than  my  thistle  plume, 
And  all  my  limbs  are  loose ;  but  in  my  eyes 
The  star  of  an  unconquerable  praise ; 
For  in  my  soul  one  hope  for  ever  sings, 
That  at  the  next  white  corner  of  a  road 
My  eyes  may  look  on  Him." 

To  one  inspired  by  such  visions  all  the  spirit  of  the 
Reaction  is  summed  up  in  the  tremendous  picture  of 
Watts's  "  Mammon."  The  vision  is  not  Mammon  or 
Commerce,  but  "  something  intangible  behind,"  a  ruling 
element  in  modern  life.  Here  is  "  the  blind  and  asinine 
appetite  for  mere  power " ;  symbolised  in  "  the  all- 
destroying  God  and  king  adorned  with  the  ears  of  an 
ass,  declaring  that  he  was  royal,  imperial,  irresistible, 
and,  when  all  is  said,  imbecile." 

"  This  is  something  which  in  spirit  and  in  essence  I 
have  seen  before,"  he  proclaims,  "  something  which  in 
spirit  and  in  essence  I  have  seen  everywhere.  That 
bloated,  unconscious  face,  so  heavy,  so  violent,  so  wicked, 
so  innocent,  have  I  not  seen  it  at  street  corners,  in 
billiard  rooms,  in  saloon  bars,  laying  down  the  law 
about  Chartered  shares,  or  gaping  at  jokes  about 
women  ?  Those  huge  and  smashing  limbs,  so  weighty, 
so  silly,  so  powerless,  and  yet  so  powerful,  have  I  not 
seen  them  in  the  pompous  movements,  the  morbid 
health  of  the  prosperous  in  the  great  cities?  The 
hard,  straight  pillars  of  that  throne,  have  I  not  seen 



them  in  the  hard,  straight,  hideous  tiers  of  modern 
warehouses  and  factories?  That  tawny  and  sulky 
smoke,  have  I  not  seen  it  going  up  to  heaven  from  all 
the  cities  of  the  coming  world  ?  This  is  no  trifling  with 
argosies  and  Greek  drapery.  This  is  commerce.  This 
is  the  home  of  the  god  himself.  This  is  why  men  hate 
him,  and  why  men  fear  him,  and  why  men  endure  him." 
Let  all  who  are  satisfied  with  the  courses  of  modern 
England  during  the  past  decade  consider  if  there  be  not 
at  the  last  some  warning  of  judgment  in  this  verdict 
upon  an  evil  thing. 

What  is  there  common,  it  may  be  asked,  to  these 
different  writers,  what  spirit  which  may  form  the  key 
to  the  movement  of  the  immediate  years  to  come  ? 
There  is  much  evidently  divergent ;  a  continuous  transi- 
tion indeed  from  the  complete  denials  of  Mr.  Yeats  to 
the  complete  assertions  of  Mr.  Chesterton.  But  in  all 
may  be  traced  one  element ;  the  assertion  of  a  passionate 
Nationalism  against  both  the  cosmopolitan  ideals  of  the 
Victorian  period  at  its  beginning  and  the  Imperial  ideals 
at  its  close.  In  the  vision  of  the  earlier  age  all  national 
differences  were  to  smooth  themselves  out  by  the  advance 
of  knowledge  and  reasonableness.  Common  sense,  com- 
merce, a  universal  peace  were  to  create  a  homogeneous 
civilisation,  secure  in  comfort  and  tranquillity  and  a 
vague,  undogmatic  religion.  In  the  preaching  of  this 
ideal,  undoubtedly  some  of  its  advocates  came  perilously 
near  the  abnegation  of  any  special  national  affection, 
any  particular  pride  in,  or  devotion  to,  their  land ;  and 
gave  a  handle  to  the  dreary  chatter  of  a  Press  which 
branded  them  as  the  friends  of  every  country  but  their 
own.  Against  this  came  the  reaction.  Imperialism 
asserted,  indeed,  the  devotion  of  the  individual  to  his 



own  land ;  but  crudely  denied  the  right  to  others  of  a 
similar  affection.  It  was  convinced  in  pathetically 
sanguine  fashion  of  the  Divine  mission  of  England  to 
elevate  each  separate  and  subject  race  to  the  level  of 
May  fair  or  Brixton.  So  the  Irish,  the  Dutch  of  South 
Africa,  the  natives  of  India,  or  of  Nyassa  ("  half  devil 
and  half  child  ")  for  their  own  good  were  to  be  educated 
out  of  their  own  ways  into  English  ways.  They  would 
be  placed  under  the  cold  justice  of  the  Imperial 
rule.  They  would  be  taught  to  forget  their  own  lan- 
guage and  deny  their  own  religions  and  ancient  pieties. 
They  would  learn  to  ascend  the  steep  path  of  labour  and 
virtue  which  would  eventually  turn  them  into  some  replica 
of  that  finished  product  of  the  universe,  the  Imperial 

Such  was  the  ideal  at  its  best.  At  its  worst  it  became 
a  crude  assertion  of  dominance,  with  a  contempt  as  much 
for  the  old  England  which  had  not  apprehended  these 
Imperial  ideals  as  for  the  foreigner  who  still  obstinately 
resisted  their  sway. 

Against  both  these  movements  is  now  being  set  a 
Nationalism  which,  on  the  one  hand,  passionately 
asserts  a  mystical  and  entire  devotion  to  its  own  land ; 
on  the  other,  a  respect  for  the  devotion  of  others.  It 
brands  the  murder  of  a  nation  as  a  sin  alike  against 
man  and  God.  One  catches  a  note  even  of  laughter 
in  the  defiant  scorn  with  which  the  newer  spirit 
confronts  those  who  identify  their  own  calamitous 
methods  with  the  welfare  of  their  country,  and  would 
brand  all  others  as  traitors.  It  is  in  the  name  of 
England,  as  Englishmen  concerned  primarily  with  the 
honour  of  their  own  land,  as  those  to  whom  the  very 
fields  and  flowers,  and  the  breath  of  the  particular  soil 
speaks  with  an  unchanging  appeal,  that  these  writers 



fling  back  the  charges  of  disloyalty,  made  by  those  who 
have  never  been  able  to  understand  the  meaning  of  the 
mystery  of  Patriotism. 

This  is  common  to  all.  Mr.  Yeats  is  at  the  heart  of 
that  National  revival  in  life  and  literature  which,  in  the 
past  few  years,  has  made  Ireland,  on  the  remote  boun- 
daries of  Europe,  the  centre  of  one  of  the  few  living  and 
compelling  movements  of  the  age.  All  his  devotion 
gathers  towards  the  preservation  of  this  individual 
spirit,  the  spirit  "  at  the  heart  of  the  Celt  in  the 
moments  he  has  grown  to  love  through  years  of  per- 
secution, when,  cushioning  himself  about  with  dreams 
and  hearing  fairy-songs  in  the  twilight,  he  ponders  on 
the  soul  and  on  the  dead." 

Mr.  Watson  laughs  openly  at  "  that  odious  charge 
of  inconstancy  to  my  beloved  and  worshipped  mother- 
land." "  To  one  conscious  of  these  noble  origins, 
conscious,  too,  of  having  loved  his  country  with  the 
vigilant  love  that  cannot  brook  a  shadow  upon  her 
honour,  the  charge  of  being  against  her  because  he 
deplores  her  temporary  attitude  and  action,  brings  a 
kind  of  amazement  that  has  in  it  something  akin  to 

Mr.  Nevinson  has  devoted  his  days  to  appeals  for 
the  struggle  of  martyred  nations  to  maintain  their  own 
life, — in  Ireland,  in  Macedonia,  in  South  Africa.  But 
all  his  affection  centres  upon  the  very  soil  of  his  own 

"  The  seas  gulf  and  fall  around  her  promontories,"  is 
his  testimony,  "  or  lie  brooding  there  in  green  and  purple 
lines.  Her  mountains  are  low,  like  blue  waves  they  run 
along  the  horizon,  and  the  wind  flows  over  them.  It  is 
a  country  of  deep  pasture  and  quiet  downs  and  earthy 
fields,  where  the  furrows  run  straight  from  hedge  to 



hedge.  There  is  moorland  too,  and  lakes  with  wild 
names,  and  every  village  is  full  of  ancient  story.  The 
houses  are  clustered  round  old  castle  walls,  and  across 
the  breezy  distance  of  fen  and  common  the  grey  cathe- 
drals rise  like  ships  in  full  sail." 

Mr.  Belloc  is  perhaps  the  most  entirely  Nationalist. 
He  is  all  for  the  smaller  community  against  the  larger. 
He  sings  the  praise  of  the  South  country  whose  "  great 
hills  stand  along  the  sea,"  and  of  the  men  of  the  South 
country  against  the  remoter  regions  of  England.  When 
he  drinks  the  home-brewed  ale  he  drinks  (in  his  own 
absurd  and  happy  phrase)  "  Nelson  and  all  the  Vic- 
tories." He  will  even  protest  in  great  language 
patriotism  for  a  Europe  encompassed  with  alien  forces, 
a  world  outside  which  can  never  understand  devotions 
beaten  into  her  soil  by  the  passion  of  a  thousand 
years ; — 

"  She  will  certainly  remain. 

"  Her  component  peoples  have  merged  and  have  re- 
merged.  Her  particular,  famous  cities  have  fallen  down. 
Her  soldiers  have  believed  the  world  to  have  lost  all, 
because  a  battle  turned  against  them.  Her  best  has  at 
times  grown  poor  and  her  worst  rich.  Her  colonies  have 
seemed  dangerous  for  a  moment  from  the  insolence  of 
their  power,  and  then  again  (for  a  moment)  from  the 
contamination  of  their  decline.  She  has  suffered  in- 
vasion of  every  sort;  the  East  has  wounded  her  in 
arms  and  corrupted  her  with  ideas  ;  her  vigorous  blood 
has  healed  the  wounds  at  once,  and  her  permanent 
sanity  has  turned  such  corruptions  into  innocuous 
follies.  She  will  certainly  remain." 

And  Mr.  Chesterton  has  made  himself  the  very 
apostle  of  a  new  Nationalism  which  proclaims  this 
variegated  development  as  an  essential  for  the  preser- 

33  D 


ration  of  the  sanity  of  the  world.  "  There  is  a  spirit 
abroad  among  the  nations  of  the  earth,"  he  cries, 
"  which  drives  men  incessantly  on  to  destroy  what  they 
cannot  understand,  and  to  capture  what  they  cannot 
enjoy."  This  is  the  spirit  which  all  these  men  find  in 
the  faction  which  has  been  dominant  in  politics  and 
literature.  Its  final  and  desperate  rally  is  now  gather- 
ing in  the  forces  enlisting  with  Mr.  Chamberlain,  under 
the  appeal  both  to  cupidity  and  Imperial  dominance,  in 
a  last  effort  to  maintain  a  departing  supremacy.  And 
this  is  the  spirit  against  which  the  new  movement  has 
declared  uncompromising  war. 

If  literature  be  any  guide,  therefore,  one  can  prophesy 
certain  notes  of  the  spirit  of  the  coming  time. 

First,  this  spirit  will  be  National ;  with  no  appearance 
of  balanced  affection  and  an  equal  approval  and  sympathy 
for  all  men,  a  universal  benevolence.  It  will  proclaim 
always  a  particular  concern  in  the  well-being  of  England 
and  the  English  people ;  a  pride  in  its  ancient  history, 
its  ancient  traditions,  the  very  language  of  its  grey  skies 
and  rocky  shore. 

Second,  it  will,  I  think,  dissever  itself  entirely  from 
those  former  rallies  of  a  national  spirit  which  have 
immediately  identified  a  nation  with  a  small  and  limited 
class,  throwing  up  boundaries  round  its  privileges 
against  a  hungry  and  raging  crowd.  There  will  be 
none  of  the  follies  of  the  "  young  England,"  or  attempts 
to  revive  a  feudalism  which  had  vigour  in  its  day,  but 
now  has  ceased  to  be.  The  assertion  will  be  of  a 
spiritual  democracy,  with  a  claim  for  every  Englishman 
and  woman  and  child  to  some  share  in  the  great  in- 
heritance which  England  has  won. 

And  third,  therefore,  you  will  note  a  bedrock  demand 


in  the  thrusting  forward  of  those  problems  of  social 
discontent  and  social  reform,  which  are  destined 
ultimately  to  brush  aside  the  futilities  of  the  present 
party  strife.  Against  those  who  protest  their  devotion 
to  their  country,  but  who  have  done  nothing  to  make 
that  country  more  desirable  for  the  masses  of  its 
millions,  and  more  secure  in  the  devotion  of  free  and 
satisfied  peoples,  will  be  set  up  a  determination  at  all 
costs  and  through  all  changes  to  create  an  England 
more  worthy  of  the  land  of  our  desire.  The  repatriation 
of  a  rural  population  with  free  men  strong  in  the  tenacity 
which  only  security  and  contact  with  the  land  can  give, 
the  grappling  with  the  problems  of  our  restless  cities, 
the  more  even  spread  of  the  national  wealth,  the  wider 
distribution  of  the  good  things  which  have  flowed  so 
plentifully  into  our  store,  the  assertion  of  a  minimum 
standard  of  life  for  each  citizen  of  such  a  land — these 
are  the  things  which  will  become  more  and  more 
insistent  through  the  spirit  that  is  arising  after  the 

No  gleam  of  such  radiant  visions  penetrates  through 
the  dusty  atmosphere  of  contemporary  politics.  The 
observer,  limited  to  so  dreary  an  outlook,  might  well 
claim  exoneration  for  despair  of  his  country.  Govern- 
ment and  Parliament  are  to-day  seen  mouthing  and 
mumbling  over  dead  things  with  a  kind  of  pompous 
futility  which  would  be  ridiculous  if  it  were  not  so 
entirely  tragical. 

Such  verses  as  those  of  Shelley  in  1819  seem  alone 
adequate  to  the  present ;  with  their  vision  of  a 
"Senate"  with  "Time's  worst  statute  unrepealed  " ; 
religion  as  "  a  closed  book"  ;  "  rulers  who  neither  see 
nor  feel  nor  know." 

But  now,  as  then,  there  can  be  hope  of  the  presence 


also  within  these  graves  of  that  "glorious  Phantom' 
which  may  "burst  to  illumine  our  tempestuous  day." 
And  those  who  have  been  watching  all  the  long  night 
for  the  signs  of  its  passing  can  even  now  see  the  dark- 
ness lightened  with  the  coming  of  the  dawn. 



"  Jls  out  aussi  passe  sur  cette  terre,  ils  ont  descendu  lefleuve 
du  temps :  on  entendit  leurs  voix  sur  ses  bords,  et  puis  on 
n'entendit  plus  rien.  .  .  . 

"  11  y  en  avail  qui  disaient :  Qu'est-ce  que  cesflots  qui  now 
emportent  ?  Y  a-t-il  quelque  cnose  apres  ce  voyage  rapide  ? 
Nous  ne  le  savons  pas,  nul  ne  le  salt.  Et  comme  Us  disaient 
cela,  lea  rives  s'evanouissoient.  .  .  . 

"  II  y  en  avail  aussi  qui  semblaient  dans  un  recueillement 
profond  ecouter  une  parore  secrete,  et  puis  I'ceil  fixe  sur  le 
couchant,  tout  a  coup  ils  chantaient  une  aurore  invisible  ct 
un  jour  qui  ne  finit  jamais.  .  .  . 

"  Ou  sont-ils  ?  Qui  nous  le  dira?  Heureux  les  morts  qui 
meurent  dans  le  Seigneur." 



YOU  can  count  on  the  fingers  of  one  hand  the  original 
and  formative  minds  in  English  letters ;  and  there 
is  one  fewer  to-day  than  yesterday.  The  advent  of 
W.  E.  Henley  marked  the  coming  of  a  new  spirit.  His 
career  coincided  with  its  riotous  supremacy.  It  was 
dead  before  he  died.  Its  followers  gathered  round  him 
as  disciples  round  a  master.  It  found  expression  in  the 
short-lived  journals  which  he  edited  so  brilliantly.  It 
stamped  its  seal  upon  a  whole  generation  of  young 
authors  who  became  infected  with  its  scorns  and 
its  devotions,  and  spread  its  faith  through  the  English- 
speaking  world.  For  the  first  time  since  the  days  of 
"  Young  England,"  literature  was  whole-heartedly  on 
the  side  of  the  reaction.  Barbarism  and  the  joy  of 
existence  was  one  side  of  it,  with  a  craving  for  tlje 
sharp  and  bitter  rind  of  life.  Imperialism  and  love  of 
adventure  was  another — the  assertion  of  the  right  of  the 
strong  man  to  rule,  to  trample  on  the  weak,  to  crush 
under  and  destroy  for  his  pleasure.  These  were  com- 
bined with  the  hunger  for  the  raw  and  primitive  and 
elemental ;  the  sloughing  off  of  an  ancient  civilisation, 
the  calling  up  of  the  beast  and  the  savage  to  arise  from 
their  long  sleep.  No  body  of  blameless  citizens  ever 
wallowed  in  blood  so  fearfully  as  Henley's  young  men. 
No  man  ever  hated  any  cause  more  untiringly  than 



Henley  hated  all  that  is  meant  by  modern  Liberalism. 
Democracy  and  the  rule  of  the  many ;  the  protection  of 
the  weak  against  the  strong  and  the  poor  against  the 
powerful ;  the  decencies  and  respectabilities  of  ordered 
life;  the  sentiment  which  dislikes  pain  and  shrinks 
from  the  brutalities  of  war ;  all  attempts  to  find  a 
sanctity  in  the  rights  of  the  common  people,  the  cry 
of  the  oppressed — these  causes  were  involved  in  one 
universal  condemnation.  It  was  a  spirit  and  a  cult  not 
without  pose  and  affectation.  But  it  was  alive,  fervent, 
consuming  while  it  lasted  much  dead  refuse.  We  who 
are  emerging  from  its  tyranny  to  the  saner  realities 
need  not  grudge  an  acknowledgment  of  the  strength 
of  the  thundercloud  and  the  fiery  splendour  of  the 

What  a  feast  of  good  things  was  represented  by  the 
old  National  Observer  !  For  a  Saturday's  sixpence  one 
could  obtain  the  first  work  of  a  dozen  original  and 
daring  minds.  There  would  be  ferocious  political 
leaders,  sarcastic,  bitter,  striking  to  kill.  These  might 
be  followed  by  a  poem  from  an  unknown  author,  just 
becoming  talked  about,  a  Mr.  Kudyard  Kipling.  For 
"Middles"  you  might  read  one  of  that  series  of 
"Modern  Men,"  the  most  incisive  and  dramatic 
character  sketches  in  modern  journalism ;  or  one  of 
Henley's  appreciations,  as  whole-hearted  as  his  hatreds  ; 
or  Mr.  Kenneth  Graham's  "Golden  Age"  tales;  or 
Mr.  Marriott  Watson's  sketches  (he  has  never  done 
better  work)  ;  or,  perhaps,  the  table-talk  of  Mr. 
Street's  inimitable  "boy,"  or  Mr.  Harold  Frederic's 
Uncle.  And  in  the  reviews  you  would  find  something 
equally  unexpected,  a  distinctive  note  behind  the 
summary  of  contents,  a  sifting  and  judgment  of 
ephemeral  literature  by  the  light  of  the  fixed  stars  of 



criticism.  Financially,  it  was  a  failure.  The  clever- 
ness and  originality  were  too  naked  and  unashamed. 
Men  reeled  back  into  the  sobriety  of  The  Spectator 
and  similar  safe  periodicals.  But  for  the  few  of  that 
age  who  had  received  the  great  gift  of  youth  all  this 
noise  and  sparkle  and  glitter  represented  an  adventure 
into  fairyland. 

And  the  man  who  was  at  the  centre  of  it  all,  the 
heart  of  this  exuberant  and  boisterous  activity,  was  the 
man  who  has  died  after  a  life  of  pain.  The  figure  sug- 
gested was  of  a  great  laughing  giant,  full  of  the  open  air 
and  physical  well-being  and  personal  response  to  the 
zest  of  the  battle  of  existence.  The  reality  was  a 
tortured  body,  the  experience  of  enormous  suifering,  life 
creeping  ever  on  broken  wing  in  a  maimed  and  restless 
discomfort.  With  his  life-long  friend,  Stevenson,  he 
has  gone  down  singing  into  the  darkness.  History  will 
see  these  two  optimists  always  in  a  clear  white  light  of 
afternoon.  While  stout  burgesses  with  ample  means 
wept  or  squeaked  over  the  miseries  of  existence  and 
demonstrated  their  dolors  to  an  admiring  world,  these 
two  great  sufferers  from  their  beds  of  pain  were  pro- 
claiming the  triumph  of  things.  Coughing  his  life  out 
in  his  darkened  room,  Stevenson  sang  carols  in  praise 
of  God;  so  insistent  that  the  innocent  like  Mr.  Archer 
could  reproach  him  for  his  too  complacent  exulta- 
tion, and  praise  of  this  "  brave  gymnasium."  In  hos- 
pital, stricken  by  poverty  and  perpetual  pain,  with 
nerves  on  the  rack  and  the  things  he  loved  for  ever 
beyond  his  grasp,  Henley  responded  with  thanks  for  his 
"  unconquerable  soul."  Undoubtedly,  when  all  transi- 
tory disputes  have  vanished,  the  world  will  deem  itself 
the  richer  for  so  bracing  an  example. 

More  even  than  in  most  men  of  genius  the  child 


survived  in  Henley.  As  a  child  he  was  wayward, 
capricious,  vain;  never  reconciled  to  the  limitations 
of  life ;  difficult  to  satisfy.  He  had  all  the  child's 
passionate  loves  and  hatreds,  the  sudden  transitions  of 
temper,  the  almost  fierce  affection  ;  with  the  occasional 
inexplicable  impulses  to  injure  those  he  loved.  The 
attack  on  Stevenson,  which  caused  the  scandal  of  a  day, 
was  hut  an  example.  It  was  one  of  the  great  friendships 
of  history  with  depth  and  intimacy  not  yet  fully  re- 
vealed. The  lines  to  Baxter — "How  good  it  sounds, 
Lewis  and  you  and  I" — the  dedications  of  "A  child 
curious  and  innocent,"  and  "Time  and  Change,"  the 
collaborated  plays,  show  one  side  ;  the  figure  of  Burly  in 
Stevenson's  "  Talk  and  Talkers,"  the  unforgettable 
tribute  at  the  end  of  the  Christmas  Sermon,  the  other. 
But  he  saw  a  lay  figure  set  up  for  worship.  He  struck 
fiercely  and  blindly :  at  the  figure  and  his  dead  friend. 
The  world  was  scandalised  and  delighted.  "  Lewis  " 
would  have  understood. 

It  is  for  the  child  elements  that  he  will  stand  in 
literature.  He  possessed  a  child's  quick  apprehension 
of  the  sensuous  aspect  of  things — the  dying  year  and 
the  coming  of  spring,  night  and  the  sea  in  storm,  and 
all  the  magical  world  of  out-of-doors.  He  loved  with  a 
child's  delight  the  pageantry  of  war,  the  sword's  "  high, 
irresistible "  song,  the  bright  flash  of  steel,  and  the 
tramp  of  armed  men.  He  had  a  childlike,  unreserved 
love  of  England,  expressing  in  a  few  magnificent 
ballads  the  mystery  and  sacredness  of  a  Patriotism 
rare  in  these  latter  days.  And  in  the  most  appealing 
and  universal  of  all  his  poems,  it  is  the  child  shrinking 
from  the  Unknown  and  the  Future :  the  child  that  has 
suffered  so  much  wistfully  asking  the  meaning  of  it  all : 
the  simple,  pitiful  note  of  fear  and  surprise  at 



"The  terror  of  Time  and  Change  and  Death 
That  wastes  the  floating,  transitory  world." 

There  is  little  spontaneity  in  these  songs.  The 
experiments  in  rhymeless  metre  are  not  altogether 
successful.  Even  in  the  voice  of  triumph  and  exulta- 
tion there  is  always  the  background  of  douht  and 
menace.  The  chill  of  the  coming  cold  is  in  the  songs 
of  Summer:  "in  the  sun,  among  the  leaves,  upon  the 
flowers,"  creeps  the  shadow  of  the  approach  of  Death. 
For  all  the  indomitable  spirit,  the  proclamation  that  life 
is  worth  living,  and  the  refusal  to  whine  and  whimper, 
it  is  the  sombre  side  of  life  which  Henley  paints  in  his 
poems.  The  Hospital  Rhymes  are  mere  jagged  cries  of 
agony.  "  Into  the  night  go  one  and  all,"  "  fatuous, 
ineffectual  yesterdays,"  "  the  menace  of  the  irreclaim- 
able sea  " — of  such  stuff  are  his  verses  woven.  Perhaps 
they  will  be  remembered  in  the  future  more  for  their 
occasional  magnificence  of  phrase  than  for  any  natural 
inevitableness  and  charm.  "  The  past's  enormous 
disarray";  "the  unanswering  generations  of  the 
dead";  "the  immortal,  in«ommunicable  dream"; 
"the  high  austere,  unpitying  grave";  "night  with 
her  train  of  stars,  And  her  great  gift  of  sleep  " — these 
are  as  elemental  and  memorable  as  the  great  summaries 
of  Whitman.  His  is  the  poetry  read  by  poets,  the 
quarry  from  which  others  will  mine  the  marble  and 
fashion  it  into  a  thing  of  beauty. 

As  a  great  spirit  unbreakable  by  time  and  fate, 
Henley  will  go  down  to  the  future.  To  this  man  were 
given  many  of  the  world's  good  things,  varied  interests, 
a  power  of  passionate  appreciation  of  the  best  in 
literature  and  common  life,  high  and  generous  friend- 
ships, love  which  was  the  inspiration  of  all  the  most 



triumphant  of  his  songs.  To  him  also  were  given 
failure  and  pain  :  a  perpetual  ill-success  in  every  enter- 
prise :  such  suffering  of  body  and  spirit  as  seemed  to 
make  him  the  sport  of  mischievous  powers.  All  his 
literary  schemes  collapsed  :  he  lacked  money  and  the 
little  satisfactions  of  a  sheltered  and  tranquil  existence. 
The  craving  for  a  life  of  action  perpetually  fretted  him, 
the  "  home  sickness  "  of  "  those  detained  at  home  un- 
willingly." He  had  one  child  whom  he  adored.  She 
was  torn  from  him  ;  and  in  one  poem  which  sounds  the 
uttermost  depth  of  tears  he  pictures  "  the  little  exquisite 
Ghost "  calling  back  across  the  grave  to  her  Father  and 
Mother  in  those  home  kingdoms  left  desolate  by  Death. 
Sometimes  he  was  irritable  and  indignant,  and  struck  at 
the  friends  who  loved  him.  But  for  the  most  part  there 
was  a  resignation,  a  determination  to  make  the  best  of 
things,  a  resolute  refusal  to  give  up  and  acknowledge 
the  triumph  of  the  powers  of  darkness,  which  lifts  the 
whole  tragic  record  out  of  the  region  of  sorrow,  and 
transfigures  it  with  a  kind  of  glory. 

"So  be  my  passing! 

My  task  accomplished  and  the  long  day  done, 
My  wages  taken,  and  in  my  heart 
Some  late  lark  singing. 
Let  me  be  gathered  to  the  quiet  west, 
The  sundown  splendid  and  serene, 

The  spirit  of  one  of  the  most  appealing  of  his  earliei 
poems  is  the  spirit  in  which  most  who  knew  and  loved 
him  will  wish  to  bid  him  farewell. 



TWO  writers  are  most  responsible  for  whatever 
popular  success  has  been  attained  by  the  move- 
ment termed  a  little  grandiloquently  "the  Anglo- 
Catholic  revival  in  England."  The  one,  Christina 
Kossetti,  wrote  a  few  poems ;  the  other,  J.  Henry 
Shorthouse,  one  novel.  A  woman  and  a  layman  of 
the  middle  classes  thus  strangely  provided  the  par- 
ticular atmosphere  of  mysticism  and  aspiration  which 
softened  the  often  hard,  dogmatic  teaching  and  the 
fantastic  ritual  of  the  younger  clergy.  The  enormous 
popularity  of  "  John  Inglesant,"  described  upon  its  first 
appearance  as  "  having  taken  the  world  by  storm  "  and 
enduring  until  to-day,  is  a  little  difficult  fully  to  explain. 
It  is  written  in  a  rare  and  delicate  prose,  revealing  a 
rare  and  refined  personality ;  but  this,  if  anything, 
would  militate  against  a  wide  acceptance.  It  advertises 
itself  as  a  "  Romance,"  but  readers  anticipating 
"Tushery"  of  the  familiar  type  are  dismayed  by  an 
immediate  plunge  into  Platonic  discussions  upon  the 
nature  of  the  soul.  It  possesses  little  sense  of  unity, 
and  violates  every  law  that  should  govern  the  successful 
novel.  Yet  it  has  never  ceased  to  attract  a  varied  array 
of  champions.  Its  reception,  indeed,  is  largely  a  matter 
of  temperament.  Mr.  Birrell,  with  all  his  eclectic  taste, 
has  confessed  that  he  cannot  away  with  it.  And  many 



others  less  candid  have  probably  in  silence  endorsed  this 

The  secret  of  this  acceptance  lies,  I  think,  in  an 
appeal  to  a  type,  widely  spread,  desirous  of  accepting  a 
certain  view  of  life.  The  world  of  Shorthouse  in 
all  his  novels  is  a  world  viewed  under  a  particular 
aspect.  Existence  is  pictured  as  a  perplexing  and 
disturbed  dream.  Guidance  is  doubtful.  The  good 
is  often  at  cross  purposes  with  the  good.  Human 
life  assumes  the  aspect  now  of  a  brilliant  phantasia, 
now  of  a  masquerade.  The  later  renaissance  in 
Italy,  as  shown  in  these  pages,  is  progressing  in  an 
intoxicating  atmosphere  and  under  a  vague  sense  of 
oppression.  Men  and  women  move  through  an  en- 
chanted landscape  charged  with  emotion.  It  is  a  vision 
above  all  of  sudden  transitions,  of  the  irony  of  Change 
and  Death  everywhere  crashing  in  upon  the  players. 
The  transition  is  immediate  from  masques  and  revelry 
and  unbridled  license  to  the  "Memento,  homo,  quia 
pulvis  es,"  in  which  the  lights  suddenly  wax  dim  and 
all  the  music  changes  into  terror  and  tears.  Through 
this  strange  pageant — the  strange  pageant  of  life  in 
all  time  viewed  from  the  towers  of  Eternity — John 
Inglesant  "  walked  often  as  in  a  dream." 

But  the  appeal  which  caught  the  imagination  of  men 
living  in  an  equally  perplexing  age  rests  in  the  conviction 
of  the  author  that  there  is  a  clue  to  the  mystery.  As 
was  said  of  Dante,  "he  believed,  and  in  spite  of  all 
affirmed  the  high  harmony  of  the  world." 

This  he  was  enabled  to  do  by  his  spiritual  interpreta- 
tion both  of  the  inward  voice  and  the  outward  pageant 
of  things.  In  the  latter  he  definitely  accepted  the 
sacramental  view  of  Nature.  We  are  back  in  the 
Middle  Age.  "All  redness  becomes  blood,  all  water 



tears."  The  natural  is  but  the  thin  veil  of  the  super- 
natural, for  ever  almost  bursting  through.  God  is 
visibly  acting  in  His  world  ;  the  most  trivial  events  are 
charged  with  a  spiritual  significance.  Other  Presences 
are  watching  the  little  decisions  of  the  little  life  of 
man.  This  view  tolerates  immediately,  and  without 
any  sense  of  disturbance,  the  incursions  into  the 
story  of  mystery  and  miracle,  the  appearance  of 
the  ghost  of  Strafford,  or  the  crystal  vision  of  the 
death  of  Eustace.  It  is  an  attitude  towards  things 
which  finds  a  satisfaction  in  the  dramatic  symbolism 
of  an  external  ceremony,  in  music  and  light  and  ritual, 
which  to  the  ordinary  man  may  be  but  irritating. 
Others  have  shared  the  discovery  of  John  Inglesant, 
in  that  most  touching  description  of  his  visit  to  little 
Gidding,  that  "the  gracious  figure  over  the  altar  and 
the  bowed  and  kneeling  figures,"  are  essentially  con- 
gruous with  "the  misty  autumn  sunlight  and  the 
driving  autumn  rain." 

And  the  other  clue  to  life's  mazes  Mr.  Shorthouse 
found  in  that  doctrine  of  the  Inner  Light  which  he 
received  with  his  Quaker  upbringing,  and  unfolded  with 
so  winning  an  appeal.  The  Platonic  doctrine  of  the 
Divine  guidance,  of  the  direct  call  of  God  within  the 
soul  of  man,  is  the  belief  which  leads  John  Inglesant 
through  the  confused  and  troublous  life  of  the  seven- 
teenth century.  It  is  heard  in  the  three  great  crises  of 
the  book,  to  which  all  the  lesser  events  lead,  but  which, 
when  they  come,  come  suddenly.  The  first  is  the  temp- 
tation of  the  world,  when  De  Cressy,  the  Benedictine,  at 
Paris,  offers  him  the  more  excellent  way.  The  second 
is  the  temptation  of  the  flesh,  in  the  damp  mists  and 
breathless  air  in  the  flight  with  Laurette  from  Florence 
to  Pistoia.  The  third  is  the  temptation  of  the  devil,  in 



that  most  wonderful  scene  in  the  mountains  of  Umbria, 
when  John  Inglesant  lays  his  sword  on  the  altar  of 
the  little  hillside  chapel,  and  delivers  his  brother's 
murderer  to  the  judgment  of  God.  Through  these  and 
all  other  incidents  of  this  play  of  tired  children,  amid 
the  troublous  clash  of  war,  in  strange  ways,  with  love 
and  loss,  to  the  final  serene  sadness  of  old  age,  he  has 
ever  the  apprehension  of  this  unseen  hand.  The  pro- 
mise was  to  his  eager  boyhood.  "  I  think  you  may  find 
this  doctrine,"  said  his  teacher,  "  a  light  which  will 
guide  your  feet  in  dark  places ;  and  it  would  seem  that 
this  habit  of  mind  is  very  likely  to  lead  to  the  blessed- 
ness of  the  beatific  vision  of  God."  That  promise 
survived  through  all  the  vanity  and  terror  of  existence 
tost  amid  the  whirlpools  of  divergent  spiritual  tides. 
And  after  it  is  all  over  he  can  assert  with  the  confidence 
of  a  direct  experience  that  "we  may  not  only  know  the 
truth,  but  we  may  live  even  in  this  life  in  the  very 
household  and  courts  of  God." 

Shorthouse  only  wrote  one  book.  For  twenty  years 
he  put  into  these  pages  all  his  philosophy  of  existence. 
He  had  said  his  say,  and  there  was  nothing  more  to  be 
said.  Like  Olive  Schreiner,  an  author  with  whom, 
despite  superficial  incongruities,  he  has  much  in  com- 
mon, he  revealed  his  heart's  secret  in  one  supreme 
emotional  utterance.  Pressed  by  his  friends,  he  did 
indeed  essay  further  efforts.  In  the  tranquil  life  of  the 
little  German  Court  of  the  eighteenth  century,  he  could 
almost  retain  the  atmosphere  of  large  issues  and  spiritual 
meanings,  and  in  consequence  the  story  of  little  Mark 
nearly  approaches  success.  But  in  the  comfortable  exis- 
tence of  nineteenth-century  England,  grave  and  sane 
and  without  fear,  in  the  life  of  the  ordered  city  concerned 
with  sanitation  and  the  Poor  Law,  the  particular 



spiritual  ardour  which  he  loved  to  portray  appears 
forced  and  artificial.  So  Lady  Falaise  failed,  and  Sir 
Percival,  his  hero  warrior,  modelled  after  Gordon's 
pattern,  whose  actual  description  perhaps  almost 
justified  Barry  Pain's  cruel  parody  of  the  conversation 
under  the  Tulip  Tree.  The  writer  who  has  most  nearly 
approached  the  spirit  and  success  of  Shorthouse's  hero 
in  the  modern  world  is  John  Oliver  Hobbes  in  her 
"  Eobert  Orange."  The  record  of  the  fashioning  in 
Vanity  Fair  through  great  bitterness  in  the  School  for 
Saints  of  a  "Weapon  keen  and  pliant  to  the  will  of  God, 
is  a  record  of  one  moving  amongst  the  phantom  society 
of  the  nineteenth  century,  as  Inglesant  moved  through 
the  phantom  courts  of  Italy  three  hundred  years  ago. 
But  the  book  most  revealing  the  same  inner  spirit,  with 
something  of  the  delicacy  and  charm  of  style,  is  the 
"  Road  Mender,"  the  work  of  an  author  also  indebted 
to  a  Quaker  upbringing  for  keen  insight  into  the  things 
of  the  spirit,  and  a  capacity  for  the  estimating,  at  true 
value,  of  the  Temporal  and  the  Eternal. 

The  style  of  Shorthouse  at  its  best  stands  almost 
without  rival  in  the  literature  of  the  past  twenty  years 
for  a  particular  refinement  and  delicacy.  The  inevitable 
comparison  is  with  Newman :  not  that  "  John  Inglesant " 
achieves  even  a  momentary  rivalry  with  that  supreme 
perfection  of  English  prose,  but  that  in  each  case  there 
is  an  altogether  personal  secret  and  appeal  which  defies 
analysis.  Passage  after  passage  reads  like  music. 
Who  is  ever  likely  to  forget  the  concluding  scene  of 
this  great  spiritual  record  :  the  sunset  over  the  city : 
and  after  the  storm,  in  the  quiet  air  of  England,  far 
from  the  confused  and  passionate  life  of  Italy,  John 
Inglesant's  farewell? 

"  We  are  like  children,  or  men  in  a  tennis-court,  and 
49  E 


before  our  conquest  is  half  won  the  dim  twilight  comes 
and  stops  the  game  ;  nevertheless,  let  us  keep  our 
places,  and,  above  all  things,  hold  fast  by  the  law  of 
life  we  feel  within.  Let  us  follow  in  His  steps,  and 
we  shall  attain  to  the  ideal  life  ;  and,  without  waiting 
for  our  '  mortal  passage,'  tread  the  free  and  spacious 
streets  of  that  Jerusalem  which  is  above. 

"  He  spoke  more  to  himself  than  to  me.  The  sun, 
which  was  just  setting  behind  the  distant  hills,  shone 
with  dazzling  splendour  for  a  moment  upon  the  towers 
and  spires  of  the  city  across  the  placid  water.  Behind 
this  fair  vision  were  dark  rain-clouds,  before  which 
gloomy  background  it  stood  in  fairy  radiance  and  light. 
For  a  moment  it  seemed  a  glorious  city,  bathed  in  life 
and  hope,  full  of  happy  people  who  thronged  its  streets 
and  bridge,  and  the  margin  of  its  gentle  stream.  But 
it  was  '  breve  gaudium.'  Then  the  sunset  faded,  and 
the  ethereal  vision  vanished  and  the  landscape  lay  dark 
and  chill. 

"  '  The  sun  is  set,'  Mr.  Inglesant  said  cheerfully, 
'  but  it  will  rise  again.  Let  us  go  home.' ' 

Only  to  those  secure  in  such  a  serenity,  amid  all  the 
terror  of  passing  things,  can  come,  in  the  splendour  of 
sunset,  so  tranquil  an  acceptance  of  the  ending  of 
the  day. 



"  r  I  iHE  year  1851,"  was  said  when  Turner  died, 
JL  "  will  in  the  future  be  remembered  less  for 
what  it  has  displayed  than  for  what  it  has  withdrawn." 
The  same  prophecy  may  surely  be  made  of  the  year 
which  took  from  us,  scarcely  noticed  amid  the  clamour 
of  disastrous  war,  John  Kuskin  and  Henry  Sidgwick. 
Each  was  in  many  respects  typical  of  the  University 
he  served  so  well.  Ruskin  was  a  child  of  Oxford. 
Eloquent,  famous,  dogmatic,  no  worshipper  of  con- 
sistency, he  lived  before  the  world,  taking  all  men  into 
the  confidence  of  his  changing  opinion.  Sidgwick, 
retired,  restrained,  almost  unknown  to  the  crowd, 
advanced  with  cautious  steps,  weighing  each  sentence 
before  giving  it  utterance,  putting  his  life-force  into 
work  for  his  University.  The  one  attracted  crowded 
audiences  to  his  lectures,  which  were  subsequently  read 
wherever  +he  English  language  was  spoken.  The  other 
at  Cambridge  addressed  twelve  or  twenty  students,  and 
only  appealed  in  his  writings  to  a  few  serious  minds. 
The  death  of  the  one,  even  in  the  most  perilous  period 
of  the  war,  was  marked  by  the  lamentation  of  the  multi- 
tude. The  death  of  the  other  passed  almost  unnoticed 
by  the  Press  and  the  busy  world.  Future  ages,  I  think, 
will  find  a  difficulty  in  deciding  to  which  of  these 
two  thinkers  the  world  owes  the  profounder  debt  of 



Clarity  of  thought  and  unwavering  fairness  towards 
opponents  are  characteristic  of  Sidgwick's  philosophical 
writings.  Only  once  did  he  appear  to  approach  the 
limits  of  legitimate  criticism  :  in  his  half-contemptuous 
dismissal  of  Herbert  Spencer's  philosophy  as  a  serious 
advance  in  the  progress  of  thought.  For  the  rest  his 
expositions  of  other  men's  systems  were  astonishingly 
clear  and  generous.  He  sometimes  humorously  com- 
plained that  he  had  never  been  able  to  found  a  school 
at  Cambridge  :  that  no  body  of  students  acknowledged 
him  as  their  master.  How  could  he  found  a  school  of 
followers,  who  so  temptingly  placed  before  us  the  claims 
of  so  many  different  philosophies  :  who  would  expound 
another's  creed  with  the  same  enthusiasm  as  his  own  ? 
The  school  he  founded  was  a  school  of  those  who 
attained  divergent  positions,  but  who  all  acknowledged 
the  lessons  learnt  from  him: — fairness  to  opponents, 
ardent  search  for  enlightenment,  devotion  to  truth 
wherever  it  might  lead  them. 

He  had  resigned  his  fellowship  in  early  life  as  incom- 
patible with  his  beliefs.  He  never  faltered  in  his  con- 
viction of  the  impossibility  of  the  old  tests  and  articles. 
Yet  all  must  have  noted  in  his  controversy  with  Dr. 
Rashdall  on  the  limits  of  religious  conformity,  how 
anxious  he  was  not  to  draw  these  limits  tightly  round 
others.  He  would  allow  for  all  possibilities  before 
branding  any  fellow-man  as  guilty  of  the  moral  laxity 
which  with  him  always  ranked  amongst  the  deadly  sins. 
And  yet  with  all  this  was  no  mistiness,  no  vagueness 
in  which  all  distinction  vanishes.  The  limit  may  be 
made  as  comprehensive  as  possible.  But  it  is  drawn  at 
the  last  with  no  faltering  hand.  Beyond  this  line,  as  he 
can  see  it,  there  is  a  region  to  which  no  man  may  go 
without  peril  to  his  soul. 



His  "  Ethics  "  is  his  greatest  work.  As  a  moralist 
he  will  first  be  remembered.  They  are  right  who  say 
that  he  possessed  a  mind  essentially  analytical.  They 
are  wrong  who  assert  that  he  confined  himself  to  criti- 
cism and  presented  no  constructive  system.  He  broke  up 
the  old  Utilitarianism,  with  its  illogical  confusion  of  the 
claims  of  self  and  others.  He  attempted  to  resolve  all 
the  social  duties  into  the  primary  virtue  of  benevolence. 
And  he  acknowledged  that  the  impulse  to  seek  the 
happiness  of  others  owns  its  origin  to  an  intuition  which 
no  purely  human  outlook  can  justify  or  explain.  So  in 
his  famous  concluding  chapter  he  protested  the  insuf- 
ficiency of  all  the  popular  naturalistic  systems,  and  the 
inadequacy  of  the  moral  sanction  without  the  postulates 
of  God  and  Immortality. 

His  work  was  greater  than  his  writing.  The 
University  of  Cambridge  in  its  present  constitution  is 
largely  his  creation.  For  twenty  years  he  was  the 
acknowledged  leader  of  the  party  of  reform  which 
effected  the  transition  from  the  old  age  to  the  new. 
All  through  the  struggle  he  was  working  for  the  expan- 
sion of  the  University  beyond  its  ancient  limitations, 
for  the  increasing  of  its  capacity  of  national  service. 
In  the  efforts  for  the  abolition  of  sinecures,  the  abandon- 
ment of  theological  tests,  the  growth  of  the  University 
beyond  the  limits  of  the  Colleges,  above  all  in  the 
opening  of  its  teaching  to  women  students,  he  played 
a  prominent  part.  He  lived  to  see  the  quiet  induc- 
tion of  changes  which  a  former  time  would  have  con- 
templated with  forebodings  of  ruin.  Only  at  the  close  of 
his  long  term  of  service  was  the  outlook  clouded  by  the 
reaction  inevitable  after  far-reaching  reform.  During 
his  later  years  there  came  the  triumph  of  a  conserva- 
tism once  impotent.  All  the  special  movements  he  had 



advanced  were  suddenly  checked  in  their  progress. 
The  recognition  of  external  students  was  refused  by 
the  rejection  of  their  appeal  for  the  diploma.  The 
struggle  for  religious  liberty  was  checked  by  the  refusal 
to  sanction  St.  Edmund's  Hostel  for  Roman  Catholic 
students.  Above  all,  the  long  effort  for  the  education  of 
women  was  disastrously  closed  by  the  defeat  of  the 
appeal  for  the  titular  degree.  He  could  not  be  indif- 
ferent to  this  change  in  the  University  he  loved  so  well. 
He  recognised  the  inevitable,  resigned  his  position  on  the 
Council,  and  withdrew  himself  from  the  arena  of  conflict. 
Here  was  no  feeling  of  pique  or  transitory  despondence. 
But  he  acknowledged  that  his  own  work  was  done ;  that 
the  future  belonged  to  a  newer  generation,  inspired  by 
different  ideals. 

So  he  noted  a  similar  change  in  the  wider  questions 
of  his  time.  He  had  thrown  himself  with  ardour  into 
the  struggle  for  religious  liberty  which  ennobled  the 
middle  years  of  the  century.  "  Absorbed,"  he  described 
the  company  to  which  he  belonged,  "  in  struggling  for 
freedom  of  thought  in  the  trammels  of  an  historical 
religion."  He  had  lived  to  see  the  triumph  of  his 
cause.  Now  a  new  age  had  dawned  and  new  dangers 
threatened  the  health  of  society.  He  turned  to  confront 
the  problems  of  the  newer  time.  "  Freedom  is  won," 
he  said,  "and  what  does  Freedom  bring  us  to?  It 
brings  us  face  to  face  with  atheistic  science  :  the  faith 
in  God  and  Immortality,  which  we  had  been  struggling 
to  clear  from  superstition,  suddenly  seems  to  be  in  tJie 
air :  and  in  seeking  for  a  firm  basis  for  the  fight  we  find 
ourselves  in  the  midst  of  the  '  fight  with  death.' ' 

The  Metaphysical  Society  of  which  he  had  been  a 
member  had  represented  the  older  struggle  :  the  conflict 
of  widely  disordered  faiths  and  denials.  It  had  seen 



the  triumph  of  its  aims — the  practical  toleration  of  all 
forms  of  belief  and  negation.  Now  the  time  for  re- 
construction had  come  the  survivors  should  gather 
together  after  the  great  conflict.  So  the  newer  Syn- 
thetic Society  was  formed :  endeavouring  to  unite  all 
those  to  whom  the  word  "God"  bore  some  intelligible 
meaning.  He  himself  had  laid  down  the  first  principles 
of  union  in  his  admirable  clear  essays.  And  in  all  the 
further  work  of  reconstruction  it  is  difficult  to  over-esti- 
mate the  loss  of  his  penetrating  criticism,  unflinching 
expression  of  truth,  and  eager  search  for  faith  adequate 
to  save  mankind  from  advancing  indifference  and 

His  active  work  for  the  Psychical  Research  Society 
was  but  an  application  of  the  principle  which  guided 
all  his  progress.  Here  was  no  credulous  search 
after  a  spirit  of  divination,  or  hunger  for  marvels 
in  an  age  staled  by  custom.  But  he  was  ever  the 
seeker  for  all  knowledge  which  could  throw  light  upon 
the  things  of  life.  He  advanced  as  readily  along 
new  and  unpopular  paths  as  on  the  beaten  tracks  of 
progress.  He  ever  waged  unceasing  war  against  the 
spirit  of  condemnation  without  judgment,  of  rejection 
of  evidence  because  undesired,  whether  manifested  in 
the  older  theology  or  the  newer  sciences.  So  he  gave 
his  great  name  and  critical  powers  to  the  study  of  the 
mysterious  phenomena  of  the  border  world.  He  was 
once  the  dupe  of  clever  schemers,  and  often  the  subject 
of  the  mockery  of  the  Press.  But  he  continued  to 
support  the  work  until  the  end.  The  evidence  con- 
vinced him  of  the  presence  of  dim,  undefined  forces, 
of  something  operating  in  the  world  of  human  con- 
sciousness which  the  ordinary  man  had  failed  to 
recognise  and  science  had  hitherto  ignored  :  and  he 


was  determined  in  the  necessity  for  the  continuance 
of  the  study  and  the  wresting  of  the  control  of  obscure 
mental  phenomena  from  the  hands  of  the  quack  and  the 
charlatan.  But  it  failed  to  yield  him,  as  it  seemed  to 
yield  to  some,  clear  and  indubitable  proof  of  the  life 
beyond  death.  Neither  here  nor  in  any  past  time  could 
he  find  satisfactory  evidence  of  the  penetration  of  the 
inscrutable  secret  of  the  grave. 

The  philosophical  proofs  of  Theism  he  was  unable 
to  accept  as  satisfactory.  "  The  more  sceptical  atti- 
tude," he  said,  "  has  remained  mine  through  life." 
But  he  was  convinced  that  belief  in  God  and  in  Im- 
mortality are  vital  to  human  well-being.  "  Humanity" 
— this  was  his  unshakable  conviction — "  humanity 
will  not  and  cannot  acquiesce  in  a  godless  world." 
He  was  eager  to  recognise  the  complete  relativity 
of  our  knowledge:  the  vast  sea  of  ignorance  that 
surrounds  us.  One  of  his  favourite  theses  rested  on  the 
possibility  of  another  great  religious  inspiration.  He 
could  hope  for  the  return  of  a  period  of  unclouded 
faith  after  the  age  of  disintegration  had  passed  away. 
He  re-echoes  the  famous  lines  of  his  friend,  which  he 
says  he  "  could  never  read  without  tears  "  :  the  pro- 
test of  the  heart  against  the  "  freezing  reason  "  and  the 
sound  of  "an  ever-breaking  shore  that  tumbles  in  the 
godless  deep  ":  the  spirit  that  feels  as  "  a  child  that 
cries  but  crying  knows  his  Father  near."  Wir  heissen 
euch  hoffen — the  sad  yet  not  entirely  mournful  refuge  of 
so  many  of  the  great  men  of  his  time — was  his  final 
message.  "  The  revealing  visions  come  and  go  :  when 
they  come  we  feel  that  we  know :  but  in  the  intervals 
we  must  pass  through  states  in  which  all  is  dark,  and 
in  which  we  can  only  struggle  to  hold  the  conviction 



"  Power  is  with  us  in  the  night 
Which  made  the  darkness  and  the  light 
And  dwells  not  in  the  light  alone." 

Beyond  the  work,  greater  far  than  the  creed,  was 
the  personality  of  the  teacher  we  knew  and  loved. 
To  the  younger  of  us  at  Cambridge,  seeing  in  him 
a  figure  who  had  "  drunk  delight  of  battle  with  his 
peers "  in  the  controversies  of  the  age,  he  seemed 
indeed  the  "  Man  of  Wisdom  "  of  the  Greek  dreamer  ; 
the  philosopher  whom  the  people,  were  they  not  blind, 
would  drag  forth  and  crown  king.  To  us  he  stood  for 
"  philosophy "  at  its  highest.  Here  was  the  spirit 
which  showed  the  power  of  the  student  of  all  time 
and  all  existence.  We  noted  in  him  the  capacity  for 
weighing  evidence,  the  detached  judgment,  the  multi- 
farious interests  in  all  the  thought  and  progress  of  the 
world.  His  lectures  were  attended  by  a  scanty  few. 
Men  complained  that  they  were  of  little  utility  for  the 
schools.  In  metaphysic  he  would  spend  the  course  of 
a  term  in  defining  the  words  used  and  laying  down 
the  first  principles.  The  more  impatient  fled  away. 
In  ethic  he  would  trace  the  course  of  his  own 
spiritual  development :  from  the  Utilitarianism  of  Mill 
through  the  influence  of  Butler:  a  progress  always 
directed  to  one  end  through  the  troubled  waters  of 
controversy.  To  those  pursuing  a  difficult  voyage 
through  the  same  unquiet  sea,  the  lectures  proved 
unique  and  fascinating.  When  we  came  to  know 
him  personally,  our  respect  and  admiration  deepened. 
His  hospitality  at  Newnham  was  long  to  be  remem- 
bered. Without  the  asceticism  he  repudiated  or  the 
luxury  he  deplored  in  the  newer  generation,  he  proved 
a  host  to  whom  we  would  readily  have  given  all  our 
evenings.  He  was  a  brilliant  talker,  and  we  would 



gladly  have  listened  to  him  in  silence.  This  he  would 
never  allow.  He  would  draw  out  the  retiring,  tolerate 
the  absurd,  welcome  even  the  dull  and  commonplace. 
Our  most  fatuous  remarks  would  be  accepted  and 
discussed.  We  left  feeling  that  we  were  worth 
more  than  we  had  thought  before :  humbled  indeed 
by  comparison  with  an  almost  impossible  standard  of 
attainment:  but  saved  from  utter  self-distrust  by  the 
recognition  that  even  to  the  mediocre  and  ignorant 
there  was  the  possibility  of  an  occasional  inspiration. 

Nor  will  his  assistance  be  forgotten  in  deeper  matters. 
More  and  more  his  advice  was  sought  on  questions  of 
perplexity  and  honour.  It  came  to  be  accepted  that 
any  course  meeting  with  the  approval  of  his  high  ideal 
of  life  could  be  pursued  with  clear  conscience.  Those 
alone  who  were  accustomed  to  turn  to  him  in  the 
difficult  problems  of  practical  life  could  adequately 
understand  the  dreary,  almost  incredible  blank  created 
by  the  knowledge  of  his  death. 

The  end  was  worthy  of  the  life.  A  paper  read  before 
the  Synthetic  Society  marked  the  beginning  of  the  end. 
"  Everybody  was  struck  by  the  power  of  the  paper," 
wrote  one  who  was  present,  "but  they  were  even  more 
impressed  by  the  animation  and  brilliance  with  which 
the  reader  took  part  in  the  subsequent  debate.  A  few 
days  later  his  hearers  learnt  that  their  guest  had  gone 
through  the  evening  with  the  prospect  of  almost  immi- 
nent death  before  him."  The  command  had  suddenly 
come  to  set  his  house  in  order.  He  prepared  for  death 
by  a  rapid  and  terrible  disease  as  one  going  on  a 
journey.  One  after  the  other  he  detached  himself  from 
the  multifarious  accumulated  interests  of  a  busy  life. 
He  resigned  the  professorship  to  which  he  had  added 
such  distinction,  only  anxious  that  the  work  should  be 



carried  forward  by  the  most  competent  hands.  He 
enforced  secrecy  as  to  the  nature  of  his  illness.  He 
would  leave  the  place  in  which  he  had  played  so  high  a 
part  without  any  needless  demonstration  of  ceremony  or 
of  pity.  He  set  himself  in  the  last  few  months  of 
suffering,  with  no  complaining  against  the  inscrutable 
decree,  to  await  the  end  :  still  willing,  as  far  as  in  him 
lay,  to  perform  the  duties  of  life,  still  interested  in  the 
activities  of  the  scene  he  was  so  soon  to  leave  for  ever. 
Although  all  knew  the  end  was  inevitable  and  the  most 
speedy  was  the  most  kindly,  the  news  came  with  no 
ordinary  wonder  that  Henry  Sidgwick  had  joined  the 
"  unanswering  generations  of  the  dead."  His  writing 
represents  the  philosophy  of  a  transitional  time,  and  may 
not  be  destined  long  to  endure.  His  reputation,  always 
confined  to  the  few,  will  soon  vanish  from  the  memory 
of  man.  But  the  character  which  shone  so  brightly 
through  those  closing  scenes,  greater  far  than  his 
thought  or  his  work,  cannot  but  survive  the  inexorable 
years.  Wir  heissen  euch  lioffen.  We  bid  you  to  hope. 
Is  there  anything  more  to  say  ? 



O  WARDS  the  end  of  Myers's  life,  inspired  by 
_  that  shining  energy  which  only  seemed  to 
increase  as  the  sun  dropped  to  the  horizon,  the 
Psychical  Research  Society  initiated  an  inquiry  into 
the  attitude  of  modern  man  towards  the  promise 
of  immortal  life.  The  investigation  was,  I  believe, 
abandoned  in  England,  where  reticence  still  forbids 
an  eager  sincerity  about  ultimate  questions.  But  it 
flourished  mightily  in  America,  where  a  new  child  race 
will  discuss  its  own  spiritual  anatomy  with  all  the 
candour  of  interested  children.  I  am  not  sure  if  the 
complete  results  have  ever  been  published.  I  know  some 
of  the  replies  to  the  printed  questions  were  of  extra- 
ordinary interest.  The  inquiry  was  of  belief  in 
immortality  and  of  hope  for  immortality.  The  main 
revelation  was  of  the  latter.  The  attestation  of  man's 
belief  is  irrelevant.  Few  know  what  they  believe  at  all. 
Belief  changes  from  day  to  day,  and  in  various  atmo- 
spheres, like  a  guttering  flame.  Belief  over  the  breakfast- 
table  is  something  different  from  belief  in  time  of  the 
soul's  upheaval,  or  confronting  the  piteous  silence  of  the 
dead.  And  in  any  case  belief  or  disbelief  in  life  beyond 
the  grave  can  have  no  effect  upon  that  life's  reality  or 
illusion.  But  hope  is  more  vital.  A  man  is  more  at 
home  with  his  desires.  And  the  hope  itself  may  be  a 



factor  in  that  hope's  fruition ;  in  a  universe  where,  as 
a  matter  of  experience,  each  hungry  soul  receives  its 
heart's  desire;  life  more  and  fuller  for  those  who 
demand  it,  for  those  who  demand  it  also  the  sleep  of  an 
eternal  night. 

The  answers  exhibited  a  large  and  sincere  body  of 
opinion  joyfully  accepting  this  second  alternative.  The 
note  of  some  was  contentment  with  life  well  spent, 
slowly  rounding  off  the  long  day's  work  into  the  tran- 
quillity of  evening.  The  cry  of  others  was  the  old  cry  of 
startled  fear  at  the  unknown.  "  In  that  sleep  of  death 
what  dreams  may  come  "  seems  to  become  a  question 
even  more  haunting  with  the  advance  of  the  years.  They 
feared  to  take  the  chance.  Visions  of  a  future  menace 
have  been  intensified  by  the  spectral  discoveries  of  the 
sciences.  The  rolling  up  of  the  curtain  of  space  and 
time  has  revealed  a  boundless  universe  of  night  and 
terrors,  flaring  fires  of  sun  and  star,  an  abyss  without 
purpose  or  plan.  The  perplexity  of  Tennyson  in  old  age 
before  the  vision  of  Vastness,  the  pathetic  cry  of  Spencer 
as  he  confronts  an  unintelligible  evolution  and  dissolu- 
tion with,  beyond,  an  emptiness  or  reality  all  unknown, 
has  bitten  deep  into  the  minds  of  the  more  serious  men 
of  the  age. 

But  with  most  the  desire  for  an  end  was  built  neither 
upon  contentment  with  the  present  nor  fear  of  an  incal- 
culable future.  The  proclamation  of  life-weariness  was 
the  dominant  assertion.  The  shrinking  was  not  from 
life's  suffering  and  confusion,  but  from  life  itself.  The 
assertion  has  come  from  a  civilisation  tired  alike  of  so 
much — and  so  little — that  the  effort  of  hope  and  change 
is  itself  an  evil ;  in  a  universe  the  fit  consummation  of 
whose  courses  will  be  rest  and  quietness. 

Against  such  acquiescence  all  the  life  of  this  man 

was  one  passionate  protest.  He  was  filled  with  a  fury 
of  aspiration  similar  to  that  of  Tennyson  after  life's 
unending  day.  Better  life  in  all  the  circles  of  the 
mediaeval  inferno,  both  of  these  life-worshippers  as- 
serted, than  life  vanishing  like  the  vapour  or  the 
candle-flame  when  the  tale  is  told.  The  triumph  of 
death  was  the  one  unendurable  consummation.  The 
acceptance  of  such  a  belief,  while  it  lasted,  in  his 
own  experience  emptied  the  zest  from  human  action, 
stole  all  the  colours  from  the  flowers.  Life  under 
such  a  domination  of  greyness  became  a  mere  gnawing 
of  dead  bones,  a  mumbling  in  the  darkness ;  told  by 
an  idiot ;  signifying  nothing.  Myers  refused  to  accept 
such  a  negation  until  some  voice  which  rendered  doubt 
impossible  proclaimed  the  death  of  man,  and  no  hope  in 
dust.  In  the  midst  of  an  age  and  civilisation  stamped 
with  life-weariness,  literature  everywhere  finding  a 
sombre  satisfaction  in  the  end  of  it  all,  he  appears  as 
a  figure  from  another,  more  ardent,  age.  He  belongs  in 
spirit  to  that  earlier  time  when  life  piled  on  life  appeared 
all  too  little  for  the  hungry  heart  of  man ;  or  to  the 
new  outburst  of  human  energies  in  the  birth  of  modern 
days,  when  man  flung  himself  with  a  kind  of  heroic  fury 
upon  the  boundaries  of  his  tiny  world. 

It  is  in  this  nursing  of  the  unconquerable  hope  through 
an  age  too  much  inclined  to  abandon  the  quest  in  despair, 
that  Myers  remained  as  a  figure  of  unfading  interest ;  far 
more  than  in  any  definite  discovery  which  he  thought 
himself  to  have  made  of  that  hope's  vindication.  Given 
life,  he  was  entirely  content  with  anything  that  life 
might  bring.  He  never  had  any  fear  of  the  possibilities 
of  evil  dreams.  He  demanded  no  paradise  of  jewels  and 
gold.  He  feared  no  clumsy  or  malignant  forces.  He 
asked  merely  "  the  glory  of  going  on  and  still  to  be." 



His  attitude  to  the  last  was  one  of  a  large  curiosity ; 
"  a  little  disappointed,"  he  once  wrote  to  me  after 
illness,  at  not  "  passing  over."  It  was  a  re-echo  of 
Kingsley's  "  Beautiful,  kind  Death,  when  will  you  come 
and  tell  me  what  I  want  to  know?"  Something  was 
there  of  Whitman's  brave  spirit  as  the  shadow  crept 
ever  nearer  over  the  hills — 

"  The  untold  want — by  life  and  land  ne'er  granted  \ 
Now  voyager,  sail  thou  forth  to  seek  and  find." 

The  fragment  of  autobiography,  published  after  his 
death,  so  perfect  in  form,  so  resonant,  to  those  of  us 
privileged  to  know  its  author,  of  that  triumph  of  certainty 
which  filled  all  its  later  years,  so  tantalisingly  brief  and 
broken  to  some  who  knew  how  much  he  had  to  say  of 
life's  spiritual  voyages,  exhibited  in  every  line  this  con- 
cern in  the  one  absorbing  question.  Early  religion 
which  never  gripped  the  heart  yielded  immediately  to 
the  fascinations  of  the  Hellenic  ideal.  It  was  a  species 
of  intoxication ;  fostering  evil  as  well  as  good ;  aiding 
in  his  own  words  "  imaginative  impulse  and  detachment 
from  sordid  interests  "  ;  but  providing  "  no  check  for 
pride."  It  rose  in  a  night  as  a  revelation  of  a  world  of 
unfading  beauty.  It  fell  in  a  day  with  the  realisation  that 
nothing  remained  of  it  all  but  ruins  and  a  dream.  In  a 
vision,  gazing  from  the  summit  of  Syra  on  Delos  and  the 
Cyclades,  and  those  straits  and  channels  of  purple  sea, 
he  apprehended  that  all  this  was  dead  and  gone  for  ever. 
And  he  turned,  "  with  a  passion  of  regret,"  from  a  world 
which  suddenly  had  crumbled  to  a  little  dust. 

Afterwards,  through  the  influence  of  Josephine  Butler, 
"Christian  conversation  came  in  a  potent  form."  He 
was  introduced  by  an  inner  door,  "  not  to  its  encum- 



bering  forms  and   dogmas,  but  to  its  heart  of   fire." 

That  "  heart  of  fire  "  breathes  through  every  line  of 

"  St.  Paul,"  the  one  great  Evangelical  poem  of  the 
century : — 

"  Yea  through  life,  death,  thro'  sorrow  and  thro'  sinning 

He  shall  suffice  me,  for  He  hath  sufficed ; 
Christ  is  the  end,  for  Christ  was  the  beginning, 
Christ  the  beginning,  for  the  end  is  Christ." 

Alas!  the  vision  faded,  and  the  ardour.  "I,  even  I," 
at  first  he  could  write  to  a  friend,  "wretched  and  half- 
hearted beginner  as  I  am,  can  almost  say  already  that  I 
know  the  thing  is  true."  "  Gradual  disillusion  "  came 
from  increased  knowledge  of  history  and  of  science,  from 
wider  outlook  on  the  world.  That  Christ,  as  in  the 
vision  of  a  whole  age,  now  appeared  as  "dead  in  that 
lone  Syrian  town."  The  manger  is  found,  filled  with 
mouldy  hay  ;  the  rain  pours  through  the  broken  roof ; 
the  wind  moans  outside  unheeded : — 

"  The  ancient  stars  are  tired  and  dim, 
And  no  new  star  announces  Him." 

"  Insensibly  the  celestial  vision  faded  "  ;  and  "  left 
me  to  '  pale  despair  and  cold  tranquillity.' ' 

"  It  was  the  hope  of  the  whole  world  that  was 
vanishing,"  he  wrote,  "not  more  alone."  The  effect 
of  agnosticism  upon  him  was  wholly  evil.  "  During 
this  phase  only  can  I  remember  anything  of  dreariness 
and  bitterness — of  scorn  of  human  life,  of  anger  at 
destiny,  of  deliberate  preference  of  the  pleasures  of  the 
passing  hour." 

An  entry  in  the  diary,  "  H.S.  on  Ghosts,"  marked  the 
first  line  of  light  on  the  horizon.  The  thought  came 
to  him  of  turning  the  weapons  of  negation  against  itself 
and  utilising  in  the  work  of  rebuilding  the  very  forces 



which  had  destroyed  the  cloud-capped  palaces.  Lifers 
continuance  should  no  longer  be  guaranteed  by  dreams 
and  visions,  wild,  unsupported  hopes,  a  priori  philosophy, 
or  the  shadowy  remembrance  of  things  belonging  to  an 
ever  remoter  past.  But  the  evidence  of  the  empirical 
method  itself,  the  severest  tests  which  reason  could 
desire  of  manifestations  now  actually  in  the  world, 
should  certify  existence  beyond  the  grave.  Science 
should  itself  rebuild  what  science  had  destroyed. 

Varied  motives  drew  first  together  that  little  band  of 
adventurers  who  were  prepared  to  explore  and  to  occupy 
regions  of  experience,  avoided  by  the  common  man  as 
poisonous  and  unclean.  With  some  it  was  the  demand 
for  rescue  of  such  mysterious  kingdoms  from  the 
dominion  of  the  criminal  and  the  charlatan.  With 
others  it  was  the  conviction,  an  inheritance  from  the 
ardour  of  the  Renaissance,  that  no  element  in  this 
unintelligible  world  should  be  ruled  out  of  investigation. 
With  a  third  was  a  faint,  if  never  entirely  articulate, 
hope  that  here  might  be  given  the  very  key  of  the 
unopened  door,  which  every  generation  of  man  had 
sought  to  find  in  vain.  Myers,  then,  as  in  all  his  days, 
made  no  secret  of  his  motive.  It  was  less  to  investigate 
dispassionately  with  a  scientific  detachment  than  with  a 
kind  of  furious  determination  to  tear  from  Nature  herself 
the  secret  she  had  hidden  for  so  long  that  he  undertook 
this  exploration  of  the  rubbish-heaps  of  life.  He  con- 
fesses his  first  reluctance  to  "  re-entering  by  the  scullery 
window  the  heavenly  mansion  out  of  which  I  had  been 
kicked  by  the  back  door."  But  he  wrestled  with  this 
mysterious  spirit  behind  the  world's  outward  show,  as 
Jacob  wrestled  with  his  mysterious  visitant  till  the  break- 
ing of  the  day.  "  '  I  will  not  let  thee  go  until  thou 
bless  me ' — so  cried  I  in  spirit  to  that  unanswering shade." 

65  F 


In  that  heroic  struggle  he  consumed  the  remainder 
of  his  days.  From  near  the  beginning  he  held  himself 
to  have  obtained  the  evidence  he  desired.  That  hope 
sustained  him  to  the  end.  The  results  can  be  studied 
in  innumerable  green  volumes,  The  Transactions  of  the 
"Psychical  Research  Society,"  and  in  the  great  work 
issued  after  his  death,  in  which  he  sets  out  at  length  the 
evidence  and  the  theories  he  had  built  upon  it.  It  was 
not  an  opinion,  but  a  conviction.  It  transfigured  all  his 
later  life.  I  had  the  privilege  of  working  some  slight 
degree  with  him  in  the  last  years.  I  shall  never  forget 
the  eagerness  with  which  he  essayed  the  work  of  in- 
vestigation, the  welcome  to  all  obscure  and  remote 
testimony,  the  sense  almost  of  awe  with  which  he  would 
announce  some  fresh  fragment  of  evidence,  however 
grotesque  or  ridiculous.  No  devotee  of  the  older  religion 
hunted  for  souls  more  eagerly  than  Myers  hunted  for 
news  of  ghost  stories  and  telepathy  and  roaming  per- 
sonalities and  inexplicable  tricks  of  hypnotism  and 
magic.  I  remember  in  sorting  evidence  with  him 
noting  how  his  spirits  would  rise  as  the  record  of  some 
particular  incident  would  deepen  in  mystery  and  horror. 
It  was  a  lifelong  disappointment  to  him  that,  although 
he  pursued  ghosts  with  the  ardour  of  the  youthful 
Shelley,  the  actual  vision  was  never  vouchsafed  to  him. 
No  evidence  of  fraud  deterred  him.  No  ridicule  in  the 
least  affected  him.  After  the  detection  of  deliberate 
cheating  in  one  notorious  "  medium  "  at  Cambridge, 
his  companions  (perhaps  wisely)  refused  to  have  any 
further  communication  with  her.  Myers  was  undeterred 
He  was  summoned  to  fresh  seances  at  Paris  ;  and  I 
well  remember  being  called  to  meet  him  on  his 
return  and  finding  him  triumphantly  convinced  that 
in  this  particular  case  phenomena  had  occurred  beyond 
the  possibilities  of  human  trickery  to  devise. 



The  generations  of  undergraduates  who  passed  so 
quickly  by  him  regarded  all  this  with  perplexity.  He 
was  a  magnificent  lecturer  upon  literature  and  much 
in  demand  for  literary  societies.  He  always  charged 
his  discussion  of  his  subject — Swinburne,  Morris,  and 
the  rest — with  the  expression  of  the  one  hope  which 
burned  like  a  flame  at  his  heart.  He  would  gather 
small  bands  of  students,  attracted  somewhat  fearfully, 
to  listen  to  his  occult  revelations.  One  meeting  especially 
I  recollect,  in  which,  after  Myers  had  told  a  succession 
of  ever  more  blood-curdling  ghost  stories,  in  the  breath- 
less silence  a  late  arrival  suddenly  crashed  against  the 
door  outside.  The  effect  was  somewhat  similar  to  the 
knocking  at  the  gate  after  the  murder  of  Macbeth,  an 
immediate  galvanic  shock  in  the  "  startled  air." 

His  own  life  and  vitality  seemed  more  convincing 
evidence  of  immortality  than  all  these  testimonies  of 
strange  forces.  It  was  impossible  to  conceive  that 
strong  soul  passing  into  nothingness,  the  triumphant 
energy  meekly  bowing  before  the  supremacy  of  death. 
His  purpose  was  ever  to  sail  beyond  the  sunset. 
Exultation  was  in  all  his  doing.  It  is  upon  a  note 
of  exultation  he  closes  his  brief  testimony  of  a  life 
given  to  high  causes.  Exultation  remains  in  the  great 
line  which  is  carved  upon  the  tablet  erected  to  his 
memory  beyond  the  walls  of  Rome,  in  that  most  sacred 
spot  of  English  ground  outside  the  boundaries  of  Eng- 
land. Above  the  tomb  where  lies  all  that  is  mortal 
of  Shelley,  stands  the  self-chosen  summary  of  his  life's 
devotion — 

ApVVflCVOQ  T\VTt  \j/V)(f)V  KCU  VOffTOV  tYctlpWV, 

"  Striving   to   save   my  own  soul,  and  my  comrades 
homeward  way." 



OF  all  the  losses  which  literature  has  lately  endured, 
the  death  of  Gissing  stands  out  as  most  exhibit- 
ing the  ragged  edge  of  tragedy.  That  Death  should 
come  just  at  the  wrong  moment  was  indeed  entirely 
congruous  with  a  life  which  seemed  all  through  the 
sport  of  the  gods.  The  irony  of  some  malign  or 
malicious  power  seemed  to  be  laid  upon  the  course  of 
this  troubled  existence.  It  was  almost  with  a  clutch 
of  some  frantic  laughter — a  laughter  more  desolate 
than  tears — that  there  came  to  his  friends,  at  the 
moment  when  life  at  last  seemed  beginning,  the  news 
that  life  was  at  an  end. 

One's  whole  being  revolted  against  such  a  bitter 
bludgeoning  of  fate.  Readers  of  "Mark  Rutherford" 
will  remember  the  restrained  but  passionate  irony  of 
the  close.  After  the  unendurable  years  are  over,  when 
life  has  emerged  into  afternoon,  with  a  prospect  of 
light  at  eventide,  a  few  dispassionate  sentences  tell 
of  a  sudden  chance  chill,  a  few  days'  struggle,  and 
then — another  of  earth's  unimportant  millions  lies  quiet 
for  ever.  So  it  was  with  George  Gissing.  A  long 
struggle  against  heavy  odds,  the  experience  of  the 
worst,  public  neglect  and  private  tragedies,  had  at  last 
given  place  to  something  like  hopefulness  and  fame. 
Recognition,  long  deserved,  had  arrived.  The  crudest 
of  life's  cruelties  had  vanished.  A  beniguer  outlook,  a 



softer,  kindlier  vision  of  the  "  farcical  melodrama  "  of 
man's  existence  had  been  apparent  in  these  later 
months.  The  words  of  the  last  of  his  books  he  saw 
published  sound  strangely  prophetic.  "We  hoped" — so 
he  wrote  of  " Henry  Byecroft  " — "we  hoped  it  would 
all  last  for  many  a  year  ;  it  seemed,  indeed,  as  though 
Ryecroft  had  only  need  of  rest  and  calm  to  become 
a  hale  man."  "It  had  always  been  his  wish  to  die 
suddenly.  .  .  .  He  lay  down  upon  the  sofa  in  his  study, 
and  there — as  his  calm  face  declared — passed  from 
slumber  into  the  great  silence." 

This  is  not  the  time  to  tell  the  details  of  that 
troubled  life,  of  the  tragedy  which  lay  behind  that 
arduous  literary  toil  and  coloured  all  the  outlook  with 
indignation  and  pain.  Some  day,  for  the  edification 
or  the  warning  of  the  children  of  the  future,  the 
full  story  will  be  told.  All  that  it  is  necessary  to 
know  at  the  present  is  contained  in  those  books  in 
which  the  author,  under  the  thin  veil  of  fiction,  is  pro- 
testing out  of  his  own  heart's  bitterness  against  the 
existence  to  which  he  has  been  committed.  "For 
twenty  years  he  had  lived  by  the  pen.  He  was  a 
struggling  man  beset  by  poverty  and  other  circum- 
stances very  unpropitious  to  work."  "  He  did  a  great 
deal  of  mere  hack-work :  he  reviewed,  he  translated,  he 
wrote  articles.  There  were  times,  I  have  no  doubt, 
when  bitterness  took  hold  upon  him  ;  not  seldom  he 
suffered  in  health,  and  probably  as  much  from  moral 
as  from  physical  overstrain."  The  tyranny  of  this 
nineteenth-century  Grub  Street  drove  his  genius  into 
a  hard  and  narrow  groove.  He  might  have  developed 
into  a  great  critic — witness  the  promise  of  his  essay  on 
Dickens.  There  was  humour  in  him  all  unsuspected  by 
the  public  till  the  appearance  of  "  The  Town  Traveller." 



And  a  keen  eye  for  natural  beauty,  and  a  power  of 
description  of  the  charm  and  fascination  of  places,  and 
a  passionate  love  of  nature  and  of  home  were  only  made 
manifest  in  "By  the  Ionian  Sea,"  and  the  last  and 
most  kindly  volume. 

All  this  was  sacrificed :  in  part  to  a  perverted  sense  of 
"  Mission,"  the  burden,  as  he  thought,  laid  upon  him 
to  proclaim  the  desolation  of  modern  life  :  partly  to 
a  determination  to  make  manifest  to  all  the  world 
his  repugnance  and  disgust.  He  remains,  and  will 
remain,  in  literature  as  the  creator  of  one  particular 
picture.  Gissing  is  the  painter,  with  a  cold  and  mor- 
dant accuracy,  of  certain  phases  of  city  life,  especially 
of  the  life  of  London,  in  its  cheerlessness  and  bleak- 
ness and  futility,  during  the  years  of  rejoicing  at  the 
end  of  the  nineteenth  century.  If  ever  in  the  future 
the  long  promise  of  the  Ages  be  fulfilled,  and  life 
becomes  beautiful  and  passionate  once  again,  it  is  to 
his  dolorous  pictures  that  men  will  turn  for  a  vision 
of  the  ancient  tragedies  in  a  City  of  Dreadful  Night. 

Gissing  rarely  if  ever  described  the  actual  life  of 
the  slum.  He  left  to  others  the  natural  history  of 
the  denizens  of  "  John  Street "  and  the  "  Jago."  The 
enterprise,  variety,  and  adventurous  energy  of  those 
who  led  the  existence  of  the  beast  would  have  dis- 
turbed with  a  human  vitality  the  picture  of  his  dead 
world.  It  was  the  classes  above  these  enemies  of 
society,  in  their  ambitions  and  pitiful  successes,  which 
he  made  the  subject  of  his  genius.  He  analyses  into 
its  constituent  atoms  the  matrix  of  which  is  composed 
the  characteristic  city  population.  With  artistic  power 
and  detachment  he  constructs  his  sombre  picture,  till 
a  sense  of  almost  physical  oppression  comes  upon  the 
reader,  as  in  some  strange  and  disordered  dream. 


There  are  but  occasional  vivid  incidents ;  the  vitriol- 
throwing  in  "The  Nether  World";  the  struggle  of 
the  Socialists  in  "  Demos,"  as  if  against  the  ten- 
tacles of  some  slimy  and  unclean  monster ;  the  par- 
ticular note  of  revolt  sounded  in  "  New  Grub  Street," 
when  the  fog  descends  not  merely  upon  the  multitude 
who  acquiesce,  but  upon  the  few  who  resist.  But  in 
general  the  picture  is  merely  of  the  changes  of  time 
hurrying  the  individuals  through  birth,  marriage,  and 
death,  but  leaving  the  general  resultant  impression 
unchanged.  Vanitas  vanitatum  is  written  large 
over  an  existence  which  has  "  never  known  the  sun- 
shine nor  the  glory  that  is  brighter  than  the  sun." 
Human  life  apprehends  nothing  of  its  possibilities  of 
sweetness  and  gentleness  and  high  passion.  The 
energies,  rude  or  tired,  flaming  into  pitiful  revolt  or 
accepting  from  the  beginning  the  lesson  of  inevitable 
defeat,  end  all  alike  in  dust  and  ashes. 

The  Islington  of  "  Demos,"  the  Camberwell  of  "  The 
Year  of  Jubilee,"  the  Lambeth  of  "  Thyrza"  :  how  the 
whole  violent  soul  of  the  man  revolted  against  existence 
set  in  these!  The  outward  obsession  of  the  grey 
labyrinth  seemed  to  reflect  the  spirit  of  a  race  of 
tragic  ineptitude.  Comfort  has  been  attained,  and  some 
security.  But  beauty  has  fled  from  the  heart,  and  the 
hunger  for  it  passed  into  a  vague  discontent.  Religion 
has  lost  its  high  aspiration.  Passion  has  become 
choked  in  that  heavy  air.  The  men  toil — the  decent 
and  the  ignobly  decent — without  ever  a  sense  of  illu- 
mination in  the  dusty  ways,  or  the  light  of  a  large 
purpose  in  it  all.  The  women — what  an  awful  picture- 
gallery  of  women  appears  in  Gissing's  tales  of  suburban 
existence ! — nag  and  hate,  are  restless  with  boredom 
and  weariness,  pursue  ignoble,  unattainable  social 



aspirations,  desire  without  being  satisfied.  The  whole 
offers  a  vision  more  disquieting  and  raucous  than  any 
vision  of  the  squalor  of  material  failure.  Here,  the 
Showman  seems  to  announce  at  intervals,  always 
with  an  ironic  smile,  here  is  the  meaning  of  culture, 
civilisation,  religion — in  the  forefront  of  your  noisy 
"progress,"  in  the  city  of  your  heart's  desire. 

"  Her  object,"  said  Mr.  Hutton,  of  George  Eliot's 
"  Middlemarch,"  "  is  to  paint  not  the  grand  defeat,  but 
the  helpless  entanglement  and  miscarriage  of  noble 
aims,  to  make  us  see  the  eager  stream  of  high  purpose, 
not  leaping  destructively  from  the  rock,  but  more  or 
less  silted  up  in  the  dreary  sands  of  modern  life."  I 
have  often  thought  this  might  serve  for  a  verdict  upon 
all  Gissing's  characteristic  work.  To  produce  this 
result  he  had,  indeed,  to  cut  out  great  sections  of 
human  activity.  The  physical  satisfaction  in  food  and 
the  greater  physical  satisfaction  in  drink ;  the  delight 
in  the  excitement  of  betting,  an  election,  an  occasional 
holiday ;  the  illumination  which  comes  to  a  few,  at 
least,  from  a  spiritual  faith  or  an  ideal  cause ;  even  the 
commonest  joy  of  all,  "  the  only  wage,"  according  to 
the  poet,  which  "love  ever  asked  "  : 

"  A  child's  white  face  to  kiss  at  night, 
A  woman's  smile  by  candlelight " : 

— all  these,  if  introduced  at  all,  appear  merely  to  relieve 
for  a  moment  the  picture  of  the  desolation  of  London's 
incalculable,  bewildered  millions.  Gissing  set  himself  a 
legitimate  artistic  effort :  the  representation  of  modern 
life  in  a  certain  aspect,  seen  under  a  certain  mood.  It 
is  London,  not  in  the  glories  of  starlight  or  sunset,  but 
under  the  leaden  sky  of  a  cold  November  afternoon. 
The  third  of  Henley's  "London  Voluntaries"  is  the 



characteristic  outward  scene  of  Mr.  Gissing's  gaunt 
picture;  in  which  the  "  afflicted  city  " 

"  seems 

A  nightmare  labyrinthine,  dim  and  drifting, 
With  wavering  gulfs  and  antic  heights,  and  shifting, 
Bent  in  the  stuff  of  a  material  dark, 
Wherein  the  lamplight,  scattered  and  sick  and  pale, 
Shows  like  the  leper's  living  blotch  of  bale." 

The  vision  does  not  even  possess  the  sense  of  magic 
and  mystery  of  twilight  and  gathering  night.  The 
universe  is  simply  raw  and  wretched,  with  a  wind 
scattering  the  refuse  of  the  gutter,  and,  too  hideous 
and  grotesque  even  to  evoke  compassion,  a  few  old 
tramps  and  forlorn  children  shivering  in  the  cold. 

It  was  hecause  we  saw  in  Gissing's  later  works  an 
escape  from  this  insistent  and  hideous  dream,  a 
promise  of  a  warmer,  saner  outlook  upon  human  develop- 
ment and  desire,  that  we  felt  as  a  kind  of  personal 
outrage  the  news  of  his  early  death.  For  skilled, 
artistic  craftsmanship  he  held  the  first  place  in  the  ranks 
of  the  younger  authors  of  to-day.  He  was  only  forty- 
six  years  old.  The  later  books  seemed  to  open  possi- 
bilities of  brilliant  promise.  The  bitterness  had  become 
softened.  The  general  protest  against  the  sorry  scheme 
of  human  things  seemed  to  be  passing  into  a  kind  of 
pity  for  all  that  suffers,  and  an  acceptance  with  thank- 
fulness of  life's  little  pleasures.  The  older  indignation 
had  yielded  to  perplexity  as  of  a  suffering  child.  With 
something  of  that  perplexity — with  a  new  note  of 
wistfulness,  the  sudden  breaking  of  the  springs  of 
compassion — George  Gissing  passes  from  a  world  of 
shadows  which  he  found  full  of  uncertainty  and  pain. 



HERBERT  SPENCER  tells,  in  his  autobiography, 
how  shortly  after  his  migration  to  London  George 
Henry  Lewes  took  him  to  see  a  writer  whose  work  he 
had  already  examined  with  interest.  "  My  visits  num- 
bered three,"  he  notes,  "  or  at  the  outside  four,  always 
in  company  with  Lewes,  and  then  I  ceased  to  go.  I 
found  that  I  must  either  listen  to  his  absurd  dogmas  in 
silence,  which  it  was  not  in  my  nature  to  do,  or  get  into 
fierce  arguments  with  him,  which  ended  in  our  glaring 
at  one  another.  As  the  one  alternative  was  impracticable 
and  the  other  disagreeable,  it  resulted  that  I  dropped 
the  acquaintanceship."  And  Spencer  goes  on  to  com- 
plain of  Carlyle  that  "  he  thought  in  a  passion  "  (and, 
hence,  could  not  be  regarded  as  a  philosopher,  who,  above 
all  others,  thinks  calmly)  ;  that  the  "  old  Norse  ferocity  " 
was  strong  within  him ;  that  he  "  lacked  co-ordination 
alike  intellectually  and  morally."  "  He  had  a  daily 
secretion  of  curses  which  he  had  to  vent  on  somebody 
or  something." 

A  verbatim  report  of  these  three  or  four  meetings 
would  prove  to-day  inimitable  reading.  For  when  Car- 
lyle and  Spencer  came  together  there  was  an  encounter 
not  only  of  two  personalities  but  of  two  civilisations. 



Spencer  exhibited  a  life,  for  perhaps  the  first  time  in 
history,  entirely  organised  on  a  rational  and  scientific 
basis.  Each  separate  action  was  referred  to  general 
laws.  Guidance  was  sought  in  the  complicated  tangle 
of  life  not  in  any  "venture  of  faith,"  still  less  in  the 
commands  of  human  emotion ;  but  in  a  codified  system 
of  evolutionary  ethics,  with  a  deliberate  search  for  such 
elements  of  pleasure  as  could  be  obtained  without  inter- 
ference with  the  pleasure  of  others.  In  places  this 
system  of  natural  morality  became  as  casuistical  and 
exacting  as  any  of  the  rules  and  systems  of  venial  and 
mortal  sins  of  the  Catholic  moralists.  Spencer  turned 
back  upon  past  action  directed  towards  a  certain  end  to 
examine  with  an  almost  pathetic  refinement  whether  as 
a  matter  of  fact  the  end  has  been  attained ;  whether, 
for  example,  he  had  derived  more  happiness  from  billiards 
than  might  have  been  derived  from  other  alternative 
occupation ;  whether  he  was  justified  in  the  use  of 
opium ;  whether  in  his  final  examination  of  his  whole 
life  history  he  could  pronounce,  with  some  anticipation 
of  an  ultimate  verdict  of  a  Day  of  Judgment,  that  he  had 
chosen  aright  in  determining  to  devote  his  life  to  the  cause 
of  Evolution.  He  acknowledged  a  continuous  tradition 
of  Nonconformist  upbringing  and  ancestry,  with  no  cross- 
ing of  the  pure  stock — so  that  by  inheritance  he  became 
the  very  incarnation  of  the  "  Dissidence  of  Dissent." 
This,  overlaid  with  the  inheritance  of  the  "  acquired 
characters  "  of  three  generations  of  schoolmasters,  ex- 
plained sufficiently  to  himself  the  prevalence  of  those 
unamiable  characteristics  which  he  confessed  with  such 
naive  simplicity.  An  aggressive  disagreement  with 
persons  and  accepted  traditions,  refusal  always  to 
brook  contradiction,  that  inability  to  tolerate  error  in 
others  which  compelled  him  always  to  set  them  right 


when  wrong,  combined  to  make  him  a  difficult  person  in 
society.  "No  one  will  deny,"  he  said,  "that  I  am 
much  given  to  criticism.  Along  with  exposition  of  my 
own  views,  there  has  always  gone  a  pointing  out  of 
defects  in  the  views  of  others."  The  "tendency  to 
fault-finding  is  dominant — disagreeably  dominant." 
Such  fault-finding,  he  dismally  announced,  had  brought 
into  his  life  a  double  loss — on  the  one  hand  leading 
"  to  more  or  less  disagreeableness  in  social  inter- 
course";  on  the  other  "it  has  partially  debarred  me 
from  the  pleasures  of  admiration  by  making  me  too 
much  awake  to  mistakes  and  shortcomings." 

Carlyle's  dissent  from  current  opinion  was,  indeed,  as 
intolerant  and  even  louder- voiced ;  but  it  was  passionate 
instead  of  rational,  and  hence  far  easier  to  endure.  All 
his  opponents  were  consigned  in  storm  to  the  nether  pit. 
The  extravagant  ferocity  of  denunciation  was  streaked 
with  gleams  of  wild  humour  revealing  a  human  being, 
an  inspired,  wilful,  petulant  child.  There  was  nothing 
of  the  child  in  Spencer.  The  fault-finding  was  thin- 
lipped,  rational,  probably  in  every  case  justified,  and 
hence  intolerable.  Each  of  these  men  was  the  product 
of  inherited  traditions  of  belief  and  conduct :  of  traditions 
which  regarded  happiness  as  outside  the  legitimate 
objects  of  man's  endeavour.  When  Spencer  attempted 
to  organise  his  life  upon  an  hedonistic  basis  all  these 
traditions,  which  had  become  part  of  the  very  fibre  of  his 
being,  leapt  upwards  in  protest  and  rendered  the  experi- 
ment a  failure.  He  was  ever  asking  himself,  "  what 
have  been  the  motives  prompting  my  career — how  much 
have  they  been  egoistic  and  how  much  altruistic?" 
Caught  in  such  cobwebs  he  painfully  laboured  through 
the  whole  catalogue ;  examining  in  detail  how  far  in 
controversy  "the  wish  for  personal  success  has  gone 


along  with  the  wish  to  establish  the  truth,"  and  how  far 
the  one  has  predominated  over  the  other ;  or,  whether 
he  would  have  done  better  to  marry ;  or  explaining 
how  "  in  the  kind  of  beneficence  distinguishable  as 
positive,"  the  incentives  "  have  been  commonly  neutra- 
lised by  dislike  to  taking  the  requisite  trouble."  And 
every  day  as  it  passed  became  a  subject  of  critical  study 
and  regret  because  it  had  gone  charged  with  less  positive 
pleasure  than  might  have  been. 

In  the  "  reflections  "  at  the  end  of  the  autobiography 
Spencer  told  of  a  chance  incident  of  travel  "  in  the  days 
of  my  difficulties  when  compelled  to  travel  in  third-class 
carnages."  "  Opposite  to  me,"  he  says,  "  sat  a  man  who, 
at  the  time  I  first  observed  him,  was  occupied  in  eating 
food  he  had  brought  with  him — I  should  rather  say 
devouring  it,  for  his  mode  of  eating  was  so  brutish  as  to 
attract  my  attention  and  fill  me  with  disgust,  a  disgust 
which  verged  into  anger.  Some  time  after,  when  he 
had  finished  his  meal  and  become  quiescent,  I  was 
struck  by  the  woebegone  expression  of  his  face.  Years 
of  suffering  were  registered  on  it,  and  while  I  gazed  on 
the  sad  eyes  and  deeply-marked  lines  I  began  to  realise 
the  life  of  misery  through  which  he  had  passed.  As  I 
continued  to  contemplate  the  face,  and  to  understand 
all  which  its  expressions  of  distress  implied,  the  pity 
excited  in  me  went  to  the  extent  of  causing  that  con- 
striction of  the  throat  which  strong  feeling  sometimes 

This  extract  might  serve  as  a  sample  of  the  whole 
life  history.  The  dispassionate  pomposity  of  language, 
the  dispassionate  contemplation  of  his  own  emotions, 
the  absorption  first  in  the  nature  of  the  resonances 
and  reactions  produced  by  external  events  in  the  mind 
of  the  individual  Herbert  Spencer,  accompanied  by  a 



detachment  and  cold  criticism  which  frees  such  absorp- 
tion from  any  charge  of  selfishness — such  elements 
combined  made  of  those  thousand  pages  one  of  the 
most  extraordinary  of  all  human  records.  It  would 
appear  not  impossible,  indeed,  that  the  author  may 
be  remembered  for  the  personal  history  taken  up  in 
old  age,  and  mainly  to  break  the  tedium  of  enforced 
idleness,  long  after  the  laborious  constructions  of  the 
synthetic  philosophy  have  become  not  only  buried,  but 

Much  of  the  life  reads  like  frank  caricature,  the  kind 
of  rather  cruel  satire  that  used  to  be  written  by  Mr. 
Mallock  in  his  younger  days.  The  reference  of  each 
chance  action  to  large  principles,  the  humourless  judg- 
ment of  events,  the  laborious  justification  of  fishing  or 
billiards — all  these  produce  an  effect  which  would  be 
inexpressibly  ludicrous  but  for  the  pathos  of  the  whole 
affair.  In  the  author's  earlier  years  "  there  was  no 
sign  of  marked  liking  for  children,"  he  says  in  his 
quaint,  impersonal  fashion.  "  My  feeling  was  of  a 
tepid  kind."  Late  in  life,  in  an  existence  "passed 
chiefly  in  bed  and  on  the  sofa,  I  one  day,  while  think- 
ing over  modes  of  killing  time,  bethought  me  that  the 
society  of  children  might  be  a  desirable  distraction." 
Children  were  demanded  and  children  supplied.  The 
result  was  "  to  awaken,  in  a  quite  unanticipated  way, 
the  philoprogenitive  instinct,"  and  the  society  of  two 
little  girls  "  afforded  me  a  great  deal  of  positive  grati- 
fication." Henceforward  "  the  presence  of  a  pair  of 
children,  now  from  this  family  of  the  clan,  and  now  from 
that,  has  formed  a  leading  gratification — I  may  say  the 
chief  gratification — during  each  summer's  sojourn  in  the 
country."  Criticism  is  struck  dumb  by  such  entries  as 
these.  It  is  life  organised  on  the  system  of  the  Data 



of  Ethics  and  the  millennium  there  preached;  a  man 
moving  through  the  rich  and  passionate  experience 
of  to-day  with  complete  obedience  to  a  reasonable 
appeal :  a  kind  of  nightmare  of  an  entirely  rational 

One  possible  variation  from  such  frantic  sanity  was 
rejected  as  soon  as  it  was  understood.  Spencer  de- 
scribes his  early  friendship  with  George  Eliot,  "  the 
most  admirable  woman,  mentally,  I  ever  met."  He 
took  her  to  the  opera  and  the  theatre,  where  he  had 
free  admissions — more  used  "  because  I  had  frequently — 
indeed,  nearly  always — the  pleasure  of  her  companion- 
ship, in  addition  to  the  pleasure  afforded  by  the  per- 
formance." He  was  then  but  thirty- two,  and  the 
philosophy  had  scarcely  been  projected.  There  were 
out-of-door  walks,  discussions  on  the  terrace  outside 
Somerset  House.  "  People  drew  inferences."  "  Quite 
definite  statements  became  current."  "  There  were 
reports  that  I  was  in  love  with  her,  and  that  we  were 
about  to  be  married.  But  neither  of  these  reports  was 
true."  In  the  reflections  at  the  end,  forty  years  after- 
wards, some  indication  of  the  reason  was  revealed.  He 
had  described  in  painful  detail  her  actual  physical 
appearance.  "  Usually  heads  have  here  and  there 
either  flat  places  or  slight  hollows  :  but  her  head  was 
everywhere  convex."  He  had  once  criticised  a  great 
beauty,  alike  in  face  and  figure,  "  I  do  not  quite  like 
the  shape  of  her  head."  "  This  abnormal  tendency  to 
criticise  has  been  a  chief  factor,"  he  sadly  acknow- 
ledged, "in  the  continuance  of  my  celibate  life." 
"  Physical  beauty  is  a  sine  qua  non  for  me ;  as  was 
once  unhappily  proved  where  the  intellectual  traits 
and  the  emotional  traits  were  of  the  highest." 

Spencer's  sturdy  individualism  produced  a  complete 


Disregard  of  authority,  and  that  contempt  or  indif- 
ference for  accepted  opinion  which  was  perhaps  neces- 
sary for  the  elaboration  of  a  new  and  unpopular 
philosophy.  The  extraordinary  judgments  on  books 
and  men  scattered  through  the  life  are  examples  both 
of  this  waywardness  and  of  that  complete  absence 
of  moral  fear  which  the  author  also  recognised  in  him- 
self. Of  Plato,  "time  after  time  I  have  attempted  to 
read,"  he  said,  "  and  have  put  it  down  in  a  state  of 
impatience  with  the  indefiniteness  of  the  thinking  and 
the  mistaking  of  words  for  things."  "  To  call  that  a 
'  dialogue,' "  he  added,  with  that  disordered  common- 
sense  which  was  the  curse  of  his  existence,  "  which  is 
an  interchange  of  speeches  between  the  thinker  and  his 
'  dummy,'  who  says  just  what  it  is  convenient  to  have 
said,  is  absurd."  For  Ballads  with  recurring  burdens 
he  felt  "  a  kind  of  vicarious  shame,  at  their  inane 
repetition  of  an  idea."  Commencing  Homer,  "  for  the 
purpose  of  studying  the  superstitions  of  the  early 
Greeks,"  after  reading  some  six  books  he  "  felt  what 
a  task  it  would  be  to  go  on — felt  that  I  would  rather 
give  a  large  sum  than  read  to  the  end."  He  found 
"the  tedious  enumerations  of  details  of  dresses  and 
sums,"  the  "boyish  practice  of  repeating  descriptive 
names,"  "the  many  absurdities,  such  as  giving  the 
genealogy  of  a  horse  while  in  the  midst  of  battle,"  the 
"ceaseless  repetition  of  battles  and  speeches"  intoler- 
able. Delighted  with  the  "Modern  Painters,"  he 
opened  the  "Stones  of  Venice"  with  raised  expecta- 
tions. "  On  looking  at  the  illustrations,  however,  and 
reading  the  adjacent  text,  I  presently  found  myself 
called  upon  to  admire  a  piece  of  work  which  seemed 
to  me  sheer  barbarism.  My  faith  in  Mr.  Buskin's 
judgment  was  at  once  destroyed,  and  thereafter  I  paid 



no  further  attention  to  his  writings  than  was  implied  by 
reading  portions  quoted  in  reviews  or  elsewhere." 

Such  vigorous  dismissal  became  more  serious  when 
the  work  was  a  piece  of  essential  criticism  in  his  own 
subject.  Commencing  the  reading  of  Kant's  critique, 
Spencer  fell  upon  the  proposition  that  "  Time  and 
space  are  nothing  but  subjective  forms."  This  "  I 
rejected  at  once  and  absolutely ;  and  having  done  so 
went  no  further."  "It  has  always  been  out  of  the 
question  for  me  to  go  on  reading  a  book  the  funda- 
mental principle  of  which  I  entirely  dissent  from," 
owing  to  the  "utter  incredulity  of  the  proposition 
itself"  and  "the  want  of  confidence  in  the  reason- 
ings, if  any,  of  one  who  could  accept  a  proposition  so 
incredible."  Kant  was  flung  aside.  "  Whenever  in 
later  years  I  have  taken  up  Kant's  critique  I  have 
similarly  stopped  short  after  rejecting  its  primary  pro- 
position." It  is  interesting  to  remember  that  two  of 
the  most  influential  minds  of  the  nineteenth  century, 
who,  if  not  exactly  philosophers,  at  least  dealt  largely 
with  the  subject-matter  of  philosophy — the  one  from 
the  side  of  theology,  the  other  from  that  of  the 
natural  sciences — had  thus  failed  to  read  the  work 
which  has  laid  the  foundation  of  all  future  speculation. 
If  Newman  had  read  Kant  earlier  in  life  or  Spencer's 
impatience  of  absurdity  had  not  prevented  him  from 
persevering  in  its  study,  both  the  theological  and 
scientific  progress,  the  "  Oxford  Movement "  and  the 
"  New  Reformation,"  might  have  been  profoundly 

The  actual  effort  demanded  in  the  construction  of  the 
synthetic  philosophy  was  nothing  short  of  heroic.  The 
struggle  through  so  many  years  of  neglect  and  failure, 
the  persistence,  through  failing  health,  in  poverty,  at  the 

81  G- 

cost  of  final  nervous  collapse,  is  an  achievement  for  which 
the  world  is  richer,  which  should  go  down  to  the  future 
as  one  of  the  great  triumphs  of  human  resolution  over 
circumstance.  After  the  early  years  spent  in  engineer- 
ing invention  and  wanderings,  Spencer  felt  the  call  to 
his  life  work.  Intense  mental  strain  at  the  age  of  thirty- 
five  upon  a  constitution  naturally  neurotic — he  was  the 
only  surviving  child  of  parents  both  of  whom  exhibited 
marked  and  painful  mental  derangement — produced 
insomnia  and  mental  disturbance,  which  lasted  the 
remainder  of  his  life.  All  excitement  had  to  be  avoided, 
correspondence  declined,  the  working  parts  of  life 
jealously  guarded  for  the  great  undertaking.  Many  of 
the  chapters  were  dictated  at  intervals  of  racquets  or 
rowing,  the  only  practicable  method — a  quarter  of  an 
hour's  exercise,  then  ten  minutes'  dictation,  then  exercise 

No  less  heroic  was  the  long  struggle  for  persistence 
against  poverty.  There  is  a  letter  written  to  John 
Stuart  Mill  inquiring  concerning  the  possibility  of  a 
post  at  the  India  Office,  which  is  almost  elemental  in 
its  simplicity  and  dignity.  "  Unhappily  my  books  have 
at  present  no  adequate  sale,"  writes  the  author.  "  Not 
only  have  they  entailed  upon  me  the  negative  loss  of 
years  spent  without  remuneration,  but  also  a  heavy 
positive  loss  in  unrepaid  expenses  of  publication.  What 
little  property  I  had  has  been  thus  nearly  all  dissipated. 
And  now  that  I  am  more  anxious  than  ever  to  persevere, 
it  seems  likely  that  I  shall  be  unable  to  do  so.  My 
health  does  not  permit  me  to  spend  leisure  hours  in 
these  higher  pursuits,  after  a  day  spent  in  remunerative 
occupation.  And  thus  there  appears  no  alternative  but 
to  desist." 

After  an  attempt  to  issue  the  books  by  subscription, 


the  failure  of  adequate  support  again  threatened  abandon- 
ment. To  prevent  this  Mill  offered  to  guarantee  the 
expenses  of  future  publication  and  past  losses — "  a 
simple  proposition,"  as  he  termed  it,  "  of  co-operation 
for  an  important  public  purpose,  for  which  you  give 
your  labour  and  have  given  your  health."  The  letters 
in  which  this  offer — "  a  manifestation  of  feeling  between 
authors  that  has  rarely  been  paralleled  " — was  made  by 
Mill  and  declined  by  Spencer  are  permanent  assets  in 
the  honourable  record  of  literature. 

Eventually,  partly  through  liberal  support  in  America, 
partly  through  small  inherited  legacies,  the  work  went 
on.  "  I  am  quite  content  to  give  my  labour  for  nothing. 
I  am  content  even  to  lose  something  by  unrepaid  costs 
of  authorship.  But  it  is  clear  that  I  shall  not  be  able 
to  bear  the  loss  that  now  appears  likely."  Such  were 
the  efforts  by  which  a  philosophy  not  remote  and 
difficult,  but  perhaps  the  most  widely  popular  of  all 
nineteenth-century  expositions,  could  alone  become 

The  cost  to  its  originator  in  vital  power  was  irre- 
parable. At  the  end  he  discussed  whether  he  had 
chosen  well.  Financially,  "  it  was  almost  a  miracle 
that  I  did  not  sink  before  success  was  reached." 
"  One  who  devotes  himself  to  grave  literature  must 
be  content  to  remain  celibate."  "Adequate  apprecia- 
tion of  works  not  adapted  to  satisfy  popular  desires  is 
long  in  coming,  if  it  ever  comes."  Against  such  tardy 
recognition  he  set  the  exasperation  of  misstatement  and 
the  anger  of  threatened  interests  and  offended  prejudice. 
"  Do  I  regret  that  I  was  not  stopped  by  such  dis- 
suasions ?  "  he  mournfully  asked.  "  I  cannot  say  yes." 
So  great  was  the  impulse  to  proclaim  the  truth  that  any 
resistance  would  merely  have  produced  "  chronic  irrita.- 



tion  hardly  to  be  borne."  "  Once  having  become 
possessed  by  the  conception  of  evolution  in  its  compre- 
hensive form,  the  desire  to  elaborate  and  set  it  forth 
was  so  strong  that  to  have  passed  life  in  doing  some- 
thing else  would,  I  think,  have  been  almost  intolerable." 

To  some,  and  especially  to  those  hailing  the  synthetic 
philosophy  as  immortal,  the  triumph  of  the  achievement 
may  seem  amply  to  compensate  the  ruin  of  its  cost. 
I  must  confess  a  different  impression.  An  enormous 
sadness  broods  over  Spencer's  life  history.  At  the 
beginning  are  the  shadowy  recollections  of  ancestors, 
of  hard,  ioyless  lives,  whose  ultimate  impression 
is  one  of  futility  and  failure.  One  grandfather 
appears  as  a  gaunt,  pitiful  figure,  whose  mental  decay 
"took  the  form  of  supposing  that  he  had  matters  of 
business  to  look  after,  and  led  to  rambles  through  the 
town  with  a  vain  desire  to  fulfil  them."  The  other  is 
"  the  image  of  a  melancholy-looking  old  man  sitting  by 
the  fireside,  rarely  saying  anything  and  rarely  showing 
any  signs  of  pleasure."  The  substitution  of  a  conscious 
creed  of  hedonism  for  the  stern  Puritan  survey  of  life 
seemed  to  bring  but  little  benefit  to  their  descendant. 
All  through  happiness  proves  elusive :  the  secret  of 
well-being  is  not  apprehended ;  the  sense  of  failure  and 
baffled  purposes  is  written  large  over  the  whole  story. 
At  one  period  all  his  friends  urged  him  to  marry  as  a 
remedy  for  his  nervous  affections.  "  Ever  since  I  was 
a  boy,"  he  sorrowfully  writes,  "  I  have  been  longing  to 
have  my  affections  called  out.  I  have  been  in  the  habit 
of  considering  myself  but  half  alive,  and  have  often  said 
that  I  hoped  to  begin  to  live  some  day." 

That  "some  day"  never  arrived.  To  the  end  exis- 
tence was  woven  in  a  kind  of  bloodless  scheme  of  moral 
principle,  with  the  changes  rung  on  egoistic  and  altruistic 



impulse ;  as  divorced  from  the  life  of  men  who  love 
and  hunger  and  desire,  as  the  vision  of  the  under- 
world of  the  Greek  hereafter  to  those  who  shivered 
at  its  advent.  In  the  later  years  the  fame  of  Herbert 
Spencer  has  gone  out  through  all  lands.  Him- 
self, an  old  man,  wearied,  and  much  concerned  with 
his  maladies,  is  passing  to  his  grave  amid  mournful 
memories.  For  a  few  minutes  in  the  morning  he  can 
dictate  perhaps  half  a  page  of  his  biography.  "  Through 
the  rest  of  the  day  the  process  of  killing  time  has  to  be 
carried  on  as  best  it  may."  Walking  has  to  be  re- 
stricted to  a  few  hundred  yards  ;  reading  of  the  lightest 
kind  proves  as  injurious  as  working ;  conversation  has 
to  be  kept  within  narrow  bounds ;  recreation  is  im- 
possible, "  two  games  of  backgammon"  having  "  caused 
a  serious  relapse."  At  night,  in  spite  of  the  use  of 
opium,  there  is  never  a  full,  continuous  sleep.  "No 
ingenuity,"  was  his  pathetic  summary,  "can  prevent 

All  outside  the  tangible,  material  universe  had  been 
rejected  at  the  beginning,  and  rejected  almost  without  a 
pang ;  relegated  to  the  region  of  the  Unknowable  and 
seemingly  left  there  without  any  further  interest  or  con- 
cern. Keligion  never  left  him  because  it  never  came 
to  him.  "  Memory  does  not  tell  me  the  extent  of  my 
divergence  from  current  beliefs,"  he  here  confesses. 
"  The  '  creed  of  Christendom '  was  evidently  alien  to 
my  nature,  both  emotional  and  intellectual.  The  ex- 
pressions of  adoration  of  a  personal  being,  the  utterance 
of  laudations,  and  the  humble  professions  of  obedience, 
never  found  in  me  any  echoes."  Early  he  wrote,  "We 
cannot  know  "  over  all  the  ultimate  questions  of  the 
Universe  ;  and,  with  his  entirely  reasonable  mind,  de- 
clined any  further  to  trouble  himself  about  them. 



Occasionally,  as  when  after  his  only  game  of  golf  with 
Huxley,  he  sees  some  boys  bathing  and  wonders  how 
such  a  creature  as  man  has  attained  such  dominance 
over  the  beasts  of  the  field,  some  of  the  disordered  and 
inexplicable  things  of  life  strike  his  fancy.  But  for  the 
most  part  that  sense  of  incongruity  which  is  the  founda- 
tion of  humour  was  absent ;  wanting  not  only  in  the 
pleasant  fancies  of  verbal  play  but  in  the  large  and 
fundamental  ironies  of  things  which  form  the  soul  of 
tragedy.  To  a  mind  so  entirely  synthetic  the  universe 
came  to  arrange  itself  in  relations,  cubes,  and  parallels, 
an  orderly  framework ;  and  the  elements  which  would 
not  fit  into  this  definite  scheme  of  cause  and  effect  were 
quietly  dropped  out  of  sight.  Even  the  great  bereave- 
ments common  to  the  lot  of  man  awaken  no  sense  of 
deeper  meanings  or  clamorous,  unanswered  questionings. 
After  the  death  of  his  mother — the  loss  which  he  seemed 
to  have  felt  most  deeply — he  laments,  with  sorrow  but 
with  a  reasoned  outlook,  a  life  "  of  monotonous  routine, 
very  little  relieved  by  positive  pleasure."  The  utmost 
he  will  allow  is  regret  for  "  the  dull  sense  of  filial 
obligations  which  exist  at  the  time  when  it  is  possible 
to  discharge  them,  contrasted  with  the  keen  sense  of 
them  which  arises  when  such  discharge  is  no  longer 
possible."  Some  natural  tears  he  shed,  but  dried  them 
soon ;  convincing  himself,  with  more  success  than  the 
philosopher  in  "  Rasselas,"  of  the  folly  of  grieving  over 
irrevocable  things. 

Only  at  the  end,  when  he  is  suddenly  confronted 
with  the  brooding  menace  of  death,  does  he  realise 
the  fact  that  beyond  the  evolutionary  scheme  were 
strange  unfathomed  possibilities,  that  the  reason  of  man 
was  but  a  tiny  rushlight  in  an  immense  solitude,  a 
plumb-line  swung  into  the  midst  of  an  unbounded  deep. 



With  Tennyson,  he  tremhles  before  a  vision  of  Vastness, 
the  abysm  strewn  with  stars  and  the  great  cold  beyond 
their  transitory  flames.  He  gazes  back  into  a  waste  of 
time,  forward  into  a  future  like  a  shoreless  sea.  He 
can  make  no  meaning  of  the  world  itself,  the  strange 
life  spreading  in  the  depths  of  ocean,  the  thousand 
types  which  have  for  ever  gone.  The  insistent  query 
haunts  him,  "  To  what  end  ?  "  Along  with  this  is 
the  paralysing  thought,  "  What  if  of  all  this  thus  in- 
comprehensible to  us  there  exists  no  comprehension 
anywhere."  Suddenly  he  finds  a  new  sympathy 
awakened  within  him  towards  the  adherents  of  the 
religions  which  he  had  formerly  despised  ;  seeing  these, 
as  it  were,  the  gathering  of  men  together  for  warmth 
and  companionship  in  the  darkness  of  space,  and  the 
silence.  "Keligious  creeds" — so  he  concludes  his 
astonishing  narrative — "  I  have  come  to  regard  with 
a  sympathy  based  on  community  of  need ;  feeling  that 
dissent  from  them  results  from  inability  to  accept  the 
solutions  offered,  joined  with  the  wish  that  solutions 
could  be  found." 

In  the  life  of  Carlyle  we  are  breathing  an  entirely 
different  atmosphere.  The  contrast  cuts  deep  into  the 
basis  of  being.  Spencer  is  devoted  above  all  things 
to  liberty  as  an  end.  "As  if  it  were  a  sin  to  control, 
or  coerce  into  better  methods  human  swine  in  any 
way,"  is  Carlyle's  scornful  comment  upon  reading 
Mill's  defence  of  the  same  position.  Spencer  again 
is  at  the  heart  of  the  scientific  movement,  the  "New 
Eeformation,"  which  was  to  create  new  heavens  and 
a  new  earth.  "  Can  you  really  turn  a  ray  of  light  on 
its  axis  by  magnetism?"  Carlyle  shouts  scornfully; 
"and  if  you  could,  what  should  I  care?"  Beyond 



these  questions  of  opinion  is  the  fundamental  divergence 
in  the  outlook  upon  experience  and  its  meaning.  If 
Spencer's  life  was  maimed  by  a  too  complete  limitation 
to  the  things  which  are  seen,  Carlyle's  was  troubled  by 
too  insistent  apprehension  of  the  Unseen  Universe.  In 
an  entry  in  his  journal  he  describes  how  "  I  have  been 
at  Mrs.  Austin's,  heard  Sydney  Smith  for  the  first  time 
guffawing,  other  persons  prating,  jargoning.  To  me, 
through  these  thin  cobwebs,  Death  and  Eternity  sate 
glaring."  And  the  Vision  of  Death  and  Eternity, 
glaring  through  all  that  travail  of  eighty  years,  was 
not  conducive  to  tranquillity. 

In  one  of  his  letters  Carlyle  tells  how,  after  a  period 
of  severe  mental  strain,  he  rode  down  solitary  into 
Sussex:  through  "the  Norman  Conqueror's  country," 
the  "  green  chalk  hills,  pleasant  villages,  good  people, 
and  yellow  corn."  "It  is  all,  in  my  preternatural 
sleepless  mood,"  he  writes,  "like  a  country  of  miracle 
to  me.  I  feel  it  strange  that  it  is  there,  that  I  am  here." 
The  sentence  might  stand  for  the  secret  of  that 
violent  life.  The  record  is  of  one  moving  through 
a  drowsy  world  in  a  " preternatural  sleepless  mood"; 
and  the  nineteenth  century,  however  to  the  dulled 
eye  mechanical  and  grey,  is  to  this  man  always  "  a 
country  of  miracle."  The  sense  of  magic,  of  en- 
chantment, hangs  over  the  whole  history.  The  present, 
so  mean  as  it  appears  and  so  commonplace,  has  become 
transfigured  with  something  of  a  glory  only  in  general 
realised  when  that  present  has  become  the  past  and  to- 
day has  consented  to  be  yesterday.  The  world  of  Nature 
is  everywhere  charged  with  glamour,  silences  and 
appeals  which  awaken  emotion  beyond  the  power  of 
words.  The  world  of  man,  the  turmoil  of  politics 
and  society  chatter,  is  stricken  through  with  the 



sense  of  great  issues  and  a  purpose  beyond  time.  The 
humble  society  of  peasants  living  obscurely  in  remote 
regions,  the  deaths  and  births  and  affections  which  form 
the  common  lot  of  common  humanity,  are  illuminated 
with  colours  which  are  the  stuff  of  dreams,  and  set  in  a 
background  of  all  the  Eternities. 

It  is  this  transformation  of  the  drab  things  of  to-day 
which  gives  this  man  his  power  of  fascination  and 
wonder.  In  the  letters  is  the  real  Carlyle :  the  man  in 
his  true  self:  "  a  wild  man,"  as  he  describes  himself, 
"a  man  disunited  from  the  fellowship  of  the  world  he 
lives  in."  It  is  a  life  lived  at  a  furnace  heat  of  emotion, 
extravagant  in  laughter,  in  affection,  in  denunciation. 
He  passes  from  a  ferocity  of  contempt  or  an  uncontrolled, 
shaggy  humour,  to  outbreaks  of  appealing  and  mournful 
beauty.  He  beholds  always  good  and  evil  visibly  at 
death  grips  in  the  lives  of  men.  Like  his  own  favourite 
hero,  he  has  enough  fire  within  him  to  burn  up  the 
sins  of  the  whole  world.  Consumed  with  a  continuous 
restlessness,  he  is  ever  seeking  quiet.  "  Learn  to 
sit  still,  I  tell  you  :  how  often  must  I  tell  you,"  he 
breaks  out.  "I  persist  in  my  old  determination  to  be 
at  rest,"  he  declares  again  and  again.  "  God  help  us 
all!"  "God  be  merciful!"  "As  God  lives  I  am 
weary !  " — these  are  his  constant  burden.  "  Solitude 
is  indeed  sad  as  Golgotha ;  but  it  is  not  mad  like 
Bedlam  !  "  The  world  of  wild  warfare  came  more  and 
more  to  be  contrasted  with  a  future  beyond  the  storms 
of  time.  "  We  have  hope  through  our  Maker's  good- 
ness," he  writes  to  his  mother,  "of  a  time  that  shall 
be  always  calm  weather."  "  The  soul  that  has  been 
devoutly  loyal  to  the  Highest,"  he  cries  again,  "that 
soul  has  the  eternal  privilege  to  hope.  For  good  is 
appointed  it,  and  not  evil,  as  God  liveth."  The  best 



good  for  one  so  fire-tost  and  tormented  is  rest ;  "  such 
rest  as  God's  holy  will  has  appointed,  and  as  no  man 

Such  thoughts  were  the  only  consolation  after  each 
outburst  of  astonished  anger  at  the  madness  of  men. 
"Poor  Protectionists,"  he  flared  forth  after  the  Disraeli 
Budget  of  1851,  "  there  never  were  men  so  '  sold ' 
since  Judas  concluded  his  trade."  "  This  Jew,  how- 
ever, will  not  hang  himself ;  no,  I  calculate  he  has  a 
great  deal  more  of  evil  work  to  do  in  the  world  yet,  if 
he  lives."  "  Whatever  British  infatuation  has  money 
in  its  purse,  votes  in  its  pocket,  and  no  tongue  in  its 
head,  here  is  the  man  to  he  a  tongue  for  it."  Imme- 
diately he  turns  from  such  a  ravening  spectacle  to  that 
eternity  which  was  ever  his  "strong  tower."  "The 
day  is  drawing  down  (with  the  generation  I  belong  to), 
and  the  tired  labourers  one  by  one  are  going  home. 
There  is  rest  there,  I  believe,  for  those  who  could  never 
find  any  before.  God  is  great.  God  is  good." 

All  his  letters  are  crowded  with  those  verdicts  on 
men  which  read  so  ferociously,  whose  first  publica- 
tion scared  the  company  of  Carlyle  worshippers,  and 
tumbled  to  pieces  the  monstrous  image  they  had 
erected  of  the  Apostle  of  Silence.  Beneath  the  Carlyle 
charged  with  a  cold,  intellectual  restraint,  weighing  his 
words,  preaching  endurance  and  an  austere,  ethical 
creed — a  lath-and-plaster  figure — the  real  man  is 
emerging ;  infinitely  more  human,  infinitely  more 
lovable ;  lacking,  above  all  things,  restraint,  seeing  the 
better  course,  but  unable  to  follow  it,  violent,  with 
fierce  affection,  drawing  deep  and  fiercely  the  outlines 
and  shadows  of  things.  The  prim  moralist  is  offended 
at  the  reckless  scattering  of  contemptuous  and  fiery 
judgments.  Only  those  who  have  some  similarity  of 



temperament,  who  are  accustomed  to  speak  and  think 
in  superlatives,  will  understand  the  spirit  in  which  these 
verdicts  are  cast  forth ;  understanding,  they  will  refuse 
to  condemn. 

There  is  a  wild  humour  about  him,  a  mingling  of 
denunciation  with  a  kind  of  elemental  laughter,  in 
which  the  bitterness  is  dissolved.  After  reading  a 
Quarterly  attack  on  Kingsley  and  Maurice,  "very 
beggarly  Crokerism,"  "  no  viler  mortal,"  Carlyle 
suddenly  ejaculated,  "calls  himself  man  than  old 
Croker  at  this  time."  "  One  Merivale  "  attacked  him 
in  a  review.  "  He  is  a  slight,  impertinent  man,"  was 
Carlyle's  comment,  "  with  good  Furnival's  Inn  faculty, 
with  several  dictionaries  and  other  succedanea  about 
him — small  knowledge  of  God's  universe  as  yet,  and 
small  hope  of  now  getting  much."  Of  the  theory  of 
life  of  this  economist  "  it  struck  me  I  had  never  seen  in 
writing  so  entirely  damnable  a  statement."  "It  is  to 
me  not  a  sorrowful  prognostic,"  he  concluded,  "  that 
the  day  of  that  class  of  politicians  does  in  all  ways  draw 
towards  its  close." 

Others  who  had  not  thus  the  temerity  deliberately  to 
draw  upon  themselves  the  lightning  of  the  gods  were 
not  spared.  Of  Jowett,  "  a  poor  little  good-humoured 
owlet  of  a  body  "  was  the  verdict,  "  '  Oxford  Liberal,' 
and  very  conscious  of  being  so  :  not  knowing  right  hand 
from  left  otherwise.  Ach  Gott !  "  Of  Palmerston,  "  a 
tall  man,  with  some  air  of  greediness  and  cunning,"  was 
the  unflattering  description,  "  and  a  curious  fixed  smile 
as  if  lying  not  at  the  top,  but  at  the  bottom  of  his 
physiognomy."  The  worthy  philanthropists  of  the 
forties  became  "scraggy  critics  of  the  'benevolent' 
school."  Louis  Philippe  was  dismissed  with  con- 
temptuous pity  :  "I  begin  to  be  really  sorry  for  him, 



poor  old  scoundrel."  "An  old  man  now,  and  has  not 
learned  to  be  an  honest  man — he  learns,  or  may  learn, 
that  the  cunuingest  knavery  will  not  serve  one's  turn 
either."  The  "  Bentham  Radical  Sect "  were  treated 
to  a  crescendo  of  vituperation  till  they  were  finally  dis- 
missed as  "  wretched,  unsympathetic,  scraggy  Atheism 
and  Egoism,"  which  Nature  will  never  make  "  fruitful 
in  her  world."  "Enough,  thou  scraggy  Atheism;  go 
thy  ways,  wilt  thou !  " 

But  there  were  enthusiasms  for  famous  men  no  less 
superlative ;  in  addition  to  that  continual  flow  of  un- 
clouded family  affection,  the  love  of  the  clan,  of  the 
peasant  for  the  peasant  family;  above  all  the  whole- 
hearted elemental  devotion  of  the  son  for  the  mother 
who  bore  him,  which  illuminates  all  the  violent  and 
passionate  correspondence  of  nearly  fifty  years.  In  a 
memorable  letter  to  Browning,  "  You  seem  to  possess  a 
rare  spiritual  gift,"  is  the  generous  tribute,  "  poetical, 
pictorial,  intellectual,  by  whatever  name  we  may  prefer 
calling  it."  "  Persist  in  God's  name,  as  you  best  see 
and  can,  and  understand  always  that  my  true  prayer  for 
you  is,  good  speed  in  the  name  of  God."  There  was 
often  a  touching  gratitude  for  favours  given,  a  surprise 
at  the  toleration  extended  by  "  people  in  the  highest 
degree  zealous  to  accommodate  the  surprising  monster 
who  has  been  stranded  among  them."  "  Kindness  is 
frequent  in  this  world,"  he  declared  in  a  sudden 
quietude,  "if  we  reckon  upward  from  zero  (as  were 
fair),  not  downwards  from  infinity ;  and  always  very 
precious,  the  more  so  the  rarer." 

Carlyle  saw  with  the  eye  of  the  mystic,  the  eye 
of  the  prophet.  Common  things  lost  their  hard 
outlines.  The  world  appeared  as  a  procession  of 
spectres  and  shadows.  Again  and  again  he  cried 



that  man  is  of  the  substance  of  dreams,  and  his  little 
life  is  rounded  with  a  sleep.  "  The  dead  seem  as 
much  my  companions  as  the  living,"  he  asserted  in 
one  letter.  "  Death  as  much  present  with  me  as 
life."  Sometimes  the  effect  was  ridiculous.  The  Devil 
visibly  walks  in  Cheyne  Row,  Chelsea,  inspiring  the 
unspeakable  fowls  of  his  neighbours  to  crow  lustily  in 
the  morning,  or  stimulating  the  thirst  for  gin  of  the 
harassed  domestics.  More  frequently,  however,  the 
vision  closes  in  splendour.  The  things  of  the  present 
are  charged  with  the  sense  of  mystery.  The  homely 
virtues  and  affections  of  the  Carlyle  clan  are  carried 
into  a  region  of  high  emotion.  The  chatter  and  gossip 
of  society  are  seen  but  as  a  flickering  candle  flame  in 
the  great  red  glare  of  sunrise.  And  in  each  successive 
bereavement  Carlyle  is  caught  up  into  regions  of  mystic 
sorrow  and  rejoicing,  "  a  sacredness  that  led  one  beyond 

Each  obscure  human  life  was  for  him  a  matter  of 
infinite  import.  London,  as  he  looked  down  on  it  from 
the  Surrey  hills,  "  its  smoke  rising  like  a  great  dusky- 
coloured  mountain,  melting  into  the  infinite  clear  sky," 
became  a  meeting-place  of  Eternities  in  the  "  ever- 
flowing  stream  of  life  and  death."  In  the  graveyard 
of  the  dead,  where  "  they  all  lay  so  still  and  dumb, 
those  that  were  once  so  blithe  and  quick  at  sight  of  us ; 
gathered  to  their  sleep  under  the  long  grass,"  the  old 
man  "  could  not  forbear  a  kind  of  sob,  like  a  child's, 
out  of  my  old  worn  heart,  at  first  sight  of  all  this." 
Read  if  you  can  without  emotion  the  letter,  magnificent 
in  its  simplicity,  in  which  Carlyle  describes  to  his 
brother  in  Canada  the  last  days  and  death  of  his 
mother.  It  is  the  end  of  an  obscure  life,  full  of  toils 
and  sorrows  ;  the  dust  returning  to  the  earth,  as  it  was, 



through  that  last  indignity  which  is  the  common  lot 
of  man.  But  to  the  eyes  of  one  watching  with  a 
love  unconquered  by  the  fretfulness  of  time,  the  voyage 
of  this  humble  soul  "  through  the  gloomy  clouds  of 
death "  was  charged  with  a  solemn  splendour  and 
triumph.  All  the  mystery  of  the  greatness  of  human 
existence  gathered  round  the  moment  of  the  passing 
into  eternity  of  the  spirit,  returning  to  the  God  who 
gave  it. 

The  man  to  whom  each  solitary  life  was  thus  so 
sacred  had  the  faith  at  bottom  which  alone  can  con- 
secrate all  human  progress.  He  had,  indeed,  no  certain 
solution  of  ultimate  mysteries.  But  he  refused  to  put 
them  aside.  "  God  is  great !  God  is  good  !  "  is  his 
continual  burden ;  "  there  remaineth  a  rest,"  his  per- 
petual prayer.  "  The  ruins  of  time  build  the  mansions 
of  Eternity  "  is  the  one  sustaining  hope  with  the  passing 
of  the  years.  And  all  his  longing  goes  out  towards  a 
meeting  with  those  whom  he  loved,  now  so  quiet,  in 
"  the  Silent  Kingdoms  "  where  all  that  troubled  the  lot 
of  man  "  shall  there  be  without  the  walls  for  evermore." 

In  such  a  contrast  between  the  mystic  and  the  man  of 
science  is  summed  up  much  of  the  hunger  and  disturbance 
of  an  age.  Spencer's  story  of  his  existence  is  like  the 
even  passage  of  a  still  and  cloudy  day.  The  hours  pass 
with  scarcely  perceptible  change.  There  is  a  light  in 
the  sky,  dull,  if  cold  and  clear,  slowly  fading  with  the 
coming  of  the  night.  Carlyle's  life-history  is  like  a  day 
of  perpetual  unrest.  There  is  the  flare  of  the  dawn 
with  sunshine  succeeding;  and  thunder-clouds  roll  up 
in  tempest  with  lightning  and  storm  ;  and  the  clouds 
are  torn  apart  for  a  moment,  revealing  the  blue  sky 
beyond ;  and  the  sun  sets  in  crimson  and  yellow  light, 



with  a  menace  of  disquietude  still  on  the  horizon,  rain 
and  moaning  wind,  when  darkness  suddenly  blots  out 
the  whole  troubled  scene. 

The  one  story  ends  in  a  vision  of  desolation.  An  irony 
worthy  of  an  ancient  and  tragic  fate  compelled  the  man 
who,  more  than  any  previous  thinker,  had  fashioned  his 
action  upon  rational  and  consistent  ends,  most  com- 
pletely to  acknowledge  failure.  The  conscious  search  for 
the  prize  resulted  in  the  cry  that  the  prize  had  somehow 
eluded  the  seeker ;  and  the  neglect  of  all  irrational 
things — love  and  human  comradeship,  the  larger 
emotions,  patriotism,  and  the  losing  of  self  in  an  ideal 
cause — evolved  but  the  old  cry  of  weariness,  and  the 
failure  of  orderly  life  to  satisfy  man's  desires  and  his 

The  other,  from  the  heart  of  uncertainty  and  storm, 
under  the  purple  sky  and  sunset,  lifts  up  his  hope 
triumphant  above  the  things  of  time,  sure  in  the 
consummation  of  the  victory  and  the  abiding  rest 
beyond.  "  It  was  the  Most  High  God  that  made 
mothers,"  he  testifies,  "  and  the  sacred  affection  of 
children's  hearts  ;  yes,  it  was  He  : — and  shall  it  not,  in 
the  end,  be  all  well :  on  this  side  of  death,  or  beyond 
death  ?  We  will  pi-ay  once  more  from  our  inmost  heart 
if  we  can,  '  Our  Father  which  art  in  Heaven,  Thy  will 
be  done  ' !  " 

"  Alas !  the  inexorable  years,"  he  cries,  "  that  cut 
away  from  us,  one  after  another,  the  true  souls  whom 
we  loved,  who  loved  us  truly,  that  is  the  real  bitterness 
of  life."  "  How  could  one  live,"  he  had  before  written, 
"if  it  were  not  for  Death?"  "We  ourselves,  my 
friend" — this  is  his  conclusion  of  the  whole  matter — "it 
is  not  long  we  have  to  stay  behind ;  we,  too,  shall  find  a 
shelter  in  the  Silent  Kingdoms ;  and  much  Despicability 



that  barked  and  snarled  incessantly  round  us  here  shall 
there  be  without  the  walls  for  evermore.  Blessed  are  the 
Dead.  .  .  .  God  is  great,  say  the  Moslems;  to  which 
we  add  only,  God  is  Good ;  and  have  not,  nor  ever  shall 
have,  any  more  to  say." 

So  in  faith  and  perplexity,  the  one  with  an  unanswered 
question  on  his  lips,  the  other  with  the  great  longing  in 
his  heart  still  unsatisfied,  these  two  men  went  down  into 
darkness  :  and  the  grasses  blow  above  their  graves. 


OF  all  the  memorable  comparisons  in  history,  in  which 
two  men  of  supreme  talent  have  been  exhibited 
struggling  through  a  lifetime  for  the  triumph  of  conflicting 
ideals,  none  will  stand  in  history  more  illuminating 
than  that  of  Disraeli  and  Gladstone.  The  superficial 
contrast  has  been  a  thousand  times  emphasised.  But 
the  material  is  now  for  the  first  time  available  which 
can  enable  the  reader  to  penetrate  beneath  the  surface 
show.  All  the  accidents  of  birth,  fortune,  and  educa- 
tion vanish  ;  and  we  enter  those  innermost  recesses  of 
man's  being  which  all  men  hide  from  the  multitude, 
in  which  the  soul,  stripped  of  the  illusions  of  market- 
place and  arena,  is  confronted  only  with  itself  and  with 

The  careers  of  Disraeli  and  Napoleon  HE.  are  the  two 
great  romances  of  the  nineteenth  century.  Each  seemed 
for  all  the  earlier  time  "impossible."  Each  at  the 
beginning  absurdly  failed.  Disraeli  became  the  laugh- 
ing-stock of  England,  Napoleon  the  laughing-stock  of 
Europe.  The  grotesque  invasions  at  Strasburg  and 
Boulogne  seemed  to  certify  an  enduring  collapse  to  the 

97  H 


one.  Sydney  Smith  has  described  the  first  appearance 
of  the  other  at  Taunton,  and  how  he  was  called  the  Old 
Clothes  Man  by  the  children  and  pelted  with  slippers, 
and  finally  driven  out  in  contempt.  But  each,  confident 
in  his  genius  and  his  star,  pressed  right  onward,  and 
each  attained  such  dazzling  success  as  must  have 
excelled  even  his  wildest  dreams.  The  career  of  both 
was  closed  in  eclipse  and  ruin.  Both  were  assailed  with 
such  ferocity  of  vituperation  as  only  falls  to  the  few 
really  great.  And  both,  when  all  is  over,  have  secured 
disciples  essaying  to  erect  an  image  of  benevolence  and 
moral  earnestness — images  which  would  have  astonished 
the  men  who,  however  self  deceived  at  the  last,  would 
never  have  mistaken  these  ungainly  creations  for  por- 
traits of  themselves. 

Disraeli's  career  was  "  a  romance  of  the  will  that 
defies  circumstance,  and  moulds  the  soil  where  ideas 
are  to  flourish."  In  the  strange  figure  at  the  end 
as  depicted  by  one  of  his  admirers  could  be  read 
all  the  history  of  the  past.  "  Few  who  gazed 
on  that  drawn  countenance,"  says  Mr.  Sichel,  "could 
have  discerned  in  it  the  poetry  and  enthusiasm  of  his 
prime  :  only  the  unworn  eyes  preserved  their  piercing 
fires,  and  the  sunken  jaw  was  still  masterful.  A  long 
discipline  of  iron  self-control,  much  disillusion,  growing 
disappointments  with  crowning  triumphs,  and  latterly  a 
great  desolation,  had  subdued  the  fiercer  force  and  the 
elastic  buoyancy  of  his  heyday.  Yet  the  intellectual 
charm,  and  the  spell  of  mind  and  spirit  had  deepened 
their  outward  traces.  Fastidious  discernment,  dis- 
passionate will,  penetrating  insight,  courage,  patience, 
a  certain  winning  gentleness  underneath  the  scorn  of 
shams,  stamp  every  lineament." 

"He  was  truly  unselfish,  and  he  was  never  known  to 


blame  a  subordinate."  "In  two  things  only  he  was 
profuse — books  and  light."  Unlike  his  great  rival  in 
this  as  in  so  many  other  characteristics,  he  was  "utterly 
careless  of  money."  "Like  childless  men  in  general, 
he  was  devoted  to  children."  "  He  was  a  firm  friend: 
loyalty  he  always  extolled  as  a  sovereign  virtue."  "  If 
he  was  always  '  the  man  of  destiny/  he  was  also  ever 
'  faithful  unto  death.' '  "Of  music  and  art  he  was  a 
devotee."  "  In  matters  of  courtesy  he  was  old-fashioned 
and  punctilious."  "The  common  and  the  uncommon 
people  fascinated  him,  for  in  them  he  found  ideas:  the 
middling  charmed  him  less." 

In  the  world  outside  also,  that  austere,  pitiless,  senti- 
mental England  of  the  mid-century,  he  was  ever  on 
the  side  of  kindness  and  compassion.  He  possessed 
strong  sympathy  with  labour  and  the  sufferings  of  the 
poor.  "He  foresaw  the  overcrowding  of  huge  cities 
through  the  waste  of  the  soil  with  all  its  attendant 
miseries."  With  Ruskin  he  asserted  that  the  English 
poor  "  compared  with  the  privileged  of  their  own  land 
are  in  a  lower  state  than  any  other  population  compared 
with  its  privileged  classes."  He  was  "prouder  of  his 
many  social  reforms  than  of  his  Berlin  Treaty."  "What 
he  specially  sought  to  mitigate  was  irresponsible  Pluto- 

The  verdict  of  history  will  probably  endorse  Lord 
Acton's  judgment  upon  Disraeli.  "  The  man  was  more 
reputable  than  his  party."  He  led  them  first  by  grati- 
fying their  hatreds,  later  by  stimulating  their  hopes.  He 
led  them  through  strange  ways,  but  ultimately  into  the 
promised  land. 

The  attempt,  indeed,  to  prove  that  he  was  "  con- 
sistent "  throughout  all  his  political  career,  that  he 
was  not  "  an  adventurer,"  that  his  only  motive  was 



the  advancement  of  high  moral  causes,  is  an  attempt 
compared  to  which  the  rehabilitations  of  Richard  Crook- 
back  and  John  Lackland  were  but  trifles.  No  one  doubts 
Disraeli's  greatness  ;  no  one  seriously  imagines  this 
greatness  to  be  in  the  region  of  morality.  His  career  is  a 
study  for  the  admirer  of  a  great  enterprise  conducted 
through  a  lifetime  with  extraordinary  tenacity  and 
courage.  It  is  an  asset  for  the  cynic,  the  historian,  the 
detached  observer  of  the  absurd  comedy  of  human  life  ; 
not,  surely,  for  the  moralist.  The  attitude  of  his 
admirers  is  more  likely  to  be  that  of  Mr.  Swinburne  in 
his  protest  against  the  whitewashing  of  Mary  Queen  of 
Scots.  "  Surely  you  were  something  better  than 
innocent  ?  "  Disraeli  knew  his  world,  "  the  islanders," 
as  one  of  his  biographers  pleasantly  terms  them ;  and 
he  knew  himself.  He  had  the  power  of  those  who  have 
stripped  themselves  of  all  illusions,  swallowed  all 
formulas.  He  posed,  and  every  one  laughed  at  him; 
but  step  by  step  he  succeeded  in  deceiving  first  his  party, 
then  his  country,  finally  himself. 

In  such  a  survey,  the  superficial  inconsistencies  are 
negligible.  Whether  at  first  he  appeared  as  a  Tory  or 
a  Radical  seems  entirely  irrelevant.  Both  opinions 
were  quite  reconcilable  with  his  after-life.  He  hated 
the  Whigs  and  the  great  houses  who  were  excluding 
such  as  he  from  politics.  He  hated  the  middle  classes, 
the  Nonconformists.  Above  all,  he  hated  that  strenuous 
assertion  of  moral  ideals  which  always  seemed  to  him 
cant,  which  was  to  gather  under  the  leadership  of  his 
great  opponent  and  overthrow  him  at  the  last.  He 
knew  mid-century  England  as  few  others  knew  it.  His 
novels,  despite  their  absurdity  and  their  bizarre,  fantastic 
language,  remain  the  most  illuminating  commentaries 
upon  the  changes  which  this  England  was  undergoing,  to 


which  the  many  were  so  blind.  Against  these  middle 
classes  he  apprehended,  with  the  insight  of  genius  and 
the  detachment  of  the  alien,  there  could  he  united  the 
old  English  families  from  above  and  the  populace  from 
below.  The  Reform  Act  of  '67,  denounced  as  a 
betrayal,  was  merely  an  attempt  practically  to  realise 
this  conviction. 

His  policy  was  justified  by  its  success.  The  force 
of  moral  earnestness  and  enthusiasm  was  the  one 
force  he  could  never  understand.  "  I  have  been  induced 
to  analyse  what  '  moral '  means  are,"  he  once  said  ; 
"  first,  enormous  lying ;  second,  inexhaustible  boasting  ; 
third,  intense  selfishness."  This  solitary  mistake  ended 
his  career  in  apparent  ruin.  Undoubtedly  had  he  made 
an  adequate  estimate  of  the  power  of  moral  enthusiasm, 
he  would  have  adjusted  his  policy  to  its  demands,  and 
used  it  for  his  own  aims. 

But  his  success  was  never  more  apparent  than  after 
his  death.  He  became  a  cult  and  a  great  memory. 
The  romance  of  his  marvellous  career  became  magnified 
by  time.  His  policy  of  uniting  the  gentlemen  of  Eng- 
land and  the  democracy  which  loves  a  lord  against  the 
manufacturers  and  middle  classes  prospered  exceedingly. 
Other  men  entered  into  the  heritage  he  bequeathed  to 
them  ;  and  England  settled  down  with  satisfaction  at  the 
end  of  the  century  under  the  Tory  reaction  for  which 
he  had  worked  with  such  unparalleled  ardour  and 

In  this  he  was  true  to  his  own  ideas,  and  true  to 
the  interests  of  the  class  who  cried  out  that  he  had 
betrayed  them.  The  most  vehement  opponents  of  th« 
Franchise  Bill  of  '67,  such  as  the  late  Lord  Salisbury, 
were  those  who  lived  to  reap  the  great  reward  of  the 
policy  which  they  had  denounced.  Without  this 



alliance  the  Conservative  party  were  doomed  to  an 
everlasting  sterility.  With  it  they  ruled  England  for 
seventeen  out  of  the  last  twenty-five  years  of  the 
nineteenth  century.  For  such  a  transformation  they 
have  to  thank  this  "  alien  adventurer  "  whom  they  never 
entirely  trusted. 

They  might,  indeed,  have  remained  in  power  for 
decades  to  come  if  they  could  have  learnt  the  lesson  he 
had  tried  to  teach  them  :  to  press  forward  Social 
Reforms,  to  demonstrate  aristocracy  as  the  true  and 
disinterested  leaders  of  the  people :  in  ruling,  to  give  all 
that  the  people  would  themselves  demand  if  they  them- 
selves were  in  power.  In  Ireland  he  would  have  effected 
by  English  legislation  all  the  reforms  that  an  Irish 
Parliament  could  have  effected  for  herself.  At  home,  he 
would  have  pushed  forward  his  "policy  of  sewage," 
persistently  striven  for  better  houses,  better  wages, 
shorter  hours,  a  humaner  life  for  the  working  population. 
He  would  have  given  everything  except  liberty :  for  he 
was  shrewd  enough  to  know  that  when  everything  which 
liberty  demands  is  given,  the  demand  for  liberty  itself 
becomes  suddenly  silent. 

Secure  in  the  triumph  achieved  by  his  policy  the 
Conservative  party  have  repudiated  the  principles  by 
which  that  triumph  was  attained.  If  the  coming 
collapse  of  the  Tory  Government  in  England  will 
mark  the  end  not  only  of  a  party  but  of  an  epoch, 
the  future  will  but  justify  Disraeli's  prophecies  alike  of 
success  and  failure.  And  if  once  more  the  party  which 
calls  itself  "  Liberal "  enters  upon  power,  it  will  be 
because  in  adversity  that  party  has  learnt  on  the  one 
hand  to  forget  many  of  the  ideas  whose  inherent  weak- 
ness Disraeli  descried ;  on  the  other,  to  remember  that 
forces  more  vital  than  the  middle-class  individualism  of 



the  mid- Victorian  period  are  necessary  for  the  healing 
of  the  diseases  of  a  newer  England. 

In  face  of  so  magnificent  a  spectacle  as  Disraeli's 
success,  why  arouse  needless  controversy,  we  may  ask, 
by  attempting  to  drag  in  something  so  irrelevant  as 
questions  of  political  morality ?  "I  confess  to  be 
unrecognised  at  this  moment  by  you,"  Disraeli  writes  to 
Sir  Robert  Peel  in  1841 — "  appears  to  me  to  be  over- 
whelming, and  I  appeal  to  your  own  heart — to  that  justice 
and  that  magnanimity  which  I  feel  are  your  characteristics 
— to  save  me  from  an  intolerable  humiliation."  "  Do 
not  destroy  all  his  hopes,"  Mrs.  Disraeli  added,  "  and 
make  him  feel  his  life  has  been  a  mistake."  Five 
years  after,  when  reminded  of  this  by  Sir  Robert  Peel, 
"  I  can  say  I  never  asked  a  favour  of  the  Government," 
he  calmly  informed  the  House  of  Commons,  "  not  even 
one  of  those  mechanical  things  which  persons  are 
obliged  to  ask :  yet  these  assertions  were  always  made 
in  that  way,  though  I  never  asked  a  favour;  and  as 
regards  myself,  I  never,  directly  or  indirectly,  solicited 

Biographers  have  been  concerned  to  explain  this 
incident  in  a  thousand  impossible  apologies.  It  is 
warmly  asserted  that  Disraeli's  bitter  attacks  upon  Sir 
Robert  Peel  were  not  directed  by  personal  revenge  for 
the  rejection  of  his  application.  No  one  now  imagines 
such  an  explanation.  Disraeli  was  after  too  high  stakes 
to  be  turned  aside  by  anything  so  petty  as  personal 
revenge.  He  attacked  Peel  because  with  the  eye  of 
genius  he  saw  that  Peel's  desertion  of  the  country  party 
gave  him  the  opportunity  for  which  he  had  waited  half 
a  lifetime.  It  was  the  direct  way  to  the  hearts  of 
the  "  gentlemen  of  England  "  bursting  with  inarticulate 
fury,  and  welcoming  with  eagerness  their  spokesman  as 



their  leader.  One  can  regard  with  admiration  the 
imperturbable  courage  and  audacity  with  which  he  threw 
down  this  challenge  to  Peel.  "In  the  small  hours  of 
the  morning  following  the  debate,"  Peel  "  was  fishing  in 
a  sea  of  papers  for  Disraeli's  letter,"  which  he  could  not 
find.  Perhaps  had  he  found  it  the  history  of  England 
might  have  been  changed.  There  is  no  need  to  attempt 
elaborate  explanation  of  forgotten  memory  or  momentary 
madness  in  this  particular  incident  of  a  career  which 
never  pretended  to  acknowledge  the  impeding  limitations 
of  the  accepted  moral  standards. 

To  any  detached  observer  of  an  imaginary  Gerolstein 
the  career  is  one  prolonged  miracle.  Even  with  a  con- 
sciousness of  the  ruin  effected,  it  is  almost  impossible 
not  to  cheer  the  onward  advance.  At  the  beginning, 
"looking  like  Gulliver  among  the  Liliputians"  suffering 
from  chronic  dyspepsia,  he  appears  on  the  political 
arena  "devoured  by  ambition  I  did  not  see  any  means 
of  gratifying."  He  was  an  alien,  without  money,  with- 
out friends  ;  obviously  to  the  great  families  of  England 
an  adventurer  ;  impossible.  At  the  end  he  has  broken 
the  charmed  circle,  penetrated  to  the  centre,  bent  the 
great  families  of  England  to  his  will.  He  drives  them 
unresisting  along  roads  they  dread,  towards  ends  they 
cannot  foresee.  He  has  become  the  idol  of  the 
aristocracy.  He  is  the  intimate  friend  of  the  Queen. 
Finally,  for  one  intoxicating  moment,  he  stands  in  the 
full  gaze  of  the  world,  Dictator  of  Europe. 

One  half  of  the  mind  refuses  to  acquiesce.  It  sees  the 
lowering  of  public  life,  the  unscrupulous  manipulation 
of  ideal  causes  to  forward  one  individual  ambition;  the 
flattery,  the  adroitness,  the  despising  of  men.  Estimated 
now  as  if  a  long  time  ago  and  far  away  the  playing  upon 
pettiness  and  silly  ambition  appears  the  work  of  one 



who,  in  Mr.  Bryce's  words,  "watched  English  life  and 
politics  as  a  student  of  natural  history  might  watch  the 
habits  of  bees  or  ants."  The  critic  apprehends  the 
dire  consequences  of  this  theatrical  display.  Modern 
Jingoism  is  one  of  them,  which  has  poisoned  the  springs. 
Another  is  the  ruin  of  the  Christians  of  the  East. 
Here  is  a  heavy  price  to  pay  for  the  set  limelight  scene 
of  "Peace  with  honour." 

But  the  other  half  of  the  mind  is  with  him  through  it 
all.  We  applaud  in  whole-hearted  fashion  the  spirit, 
the  pluck,  the  unconquerable  will  and  determination. 
We  rejoice  with  almost  a  personal  triumph  as  the  long, 
seemingly  so  hopeless,  efforts  of  thirty  years  terminate 
in  the  attainment  of  the  desired  goal. 

And,  indeed,  something  more  reputable  remains. 
Outside  the  "  game "  of  politics  there  was  much 
altogether  admirable.  He  was  a  dutiful  son,  an 
affectionate  brother.  He  showed  a  real  kindness  to 
friends ;  a  certain  magnanimity.  The  never-wavering 
gratitude  to  his  wife  for  her  whole-hearted  devotion 
illuminates  this  strange  character  with  tenderness  and 
emotion.  Above  all,  we  owe  him  a  certain  cynical 
sincerity  very  useful  for  "  islanders,"  one  of  whose 
characteristics  is  an  unparalleled  power  of  self-deception. 
"  Lying  is  a  crime  only  where  it  is  a  cruelty."  "  When 
I  meet  a  man  whose  name  I  have  utterly  forgotten,  I 
say,  '  And  how  is  the  old  complaint ? '"  "No  dogmas, 
no  Deans."  In  country  houses  "their  table  talk  is 
stable  talk."  "  They  think  it  the  battle  of  Armaged- 
don :  let  us  go  to  lunch."  "I  am  never  well  save  in 
action,  and  then  I  feel  immortal."  These  and  similar 
sayings  have  become  part  of  the  current  coin  of 
England's  worldly  wisdom. 

"  Every  one  knows  the  steps  of  a  lawyer's  career — he 


tries  in  turn  to  get  on,  to  get  honours,  to  get  honest. 
This  one  (of  a  certain  Lord  Chancellor)  edits  hymns 
instead  of  briefs,  and  beginning  by  cozening  juries  he 
compounds  with  heaven  by  cramming  children  in  a 
Sunday  school." 

There  is  a  real  pathos  about  the  end,  the  pathos 
which  shrouds  the  end  of  all  great  actors.  The  play 
is  nearly  played.  The  harsh  world  of  reality  can  no 
longer  be  kept  out  of  the  kingdom  of  fantasy  and 
illusion.  Like  another  great  actor,  Chateaubriand,  he 
has  "  seen  so  many  phantoms  defile  through  the 
dream  of  life."  "  Yes,  but  it  has  come  too  late,"  was 
the  reply  to  congratulation  on  the  great  triumph.  "  I 
am  so  blind ;  I  come  here  :  I  look  round  :  I  see  no 
one  :  I  go  away."  "  Never  defend  me,"  was  his  last 

His  definition  of  the  most  desirable  life  as  "  a  con- 
tinued grand  procession  from  manhood  to  the  tomb  " 
had  been  abundantly  realised.  "  He  faced  the  facts  of 
life,"  said  one  who  loved  him,  "  psychological  and 
spiritual,  gravely,  I  had  almost  said  sorrowfully :  he 
faced  them  compassionately."  "  I  had  rather  live,"  he 
asserted  at  the  end;  "  but  I  am  not  afraid  to  die."  His 
verdict  upon  one  of  the  characters  of  his  creation  is 
perhaps  the  last  word  upon  his  own  intimate  soul,  the 
self  which  withdrew  so  securely  from  the  madness  of 
life's  fitful  fever  : — "  What  they  called  reality  appeared 
to  him  more  vain  and  nebulous  than  the  scenes  and 
sights  of  sleep." 


Mr.  Morley's  great  life  and  the  Acton  letters 
have  revealed  now  for  the  judgment  of  the  sympathiser 



and  the  cynic  the  springs  of  action  of  Gladstone's 
vast  and  complex  character.  Behind  all  the  panorama 
of  the  outward  show,  the  concern  which  for  most  men  is 
all  the  world  and  its  desires,  stands  that  "  heart  of 
fire  "  whose  history  forms  one  of  the  most  fascinating 
chapters  in  the  story  of  men  of  renown. 

"  Not  for  two  centuries,"  says  his  biographer,  "  since 
the  historic  strife  of  Anglican  and  Puritan,  had  our 
island  produced  a  ruler  in  whom  the  religious  motive 
was  paramount  to  a  like  degree."  Later,  as  earlier, 
there  is  the  revelation  of  the  inner  life :  an  inner  life 
"  maintained  in  all  its  absorbing  exaltation  day  after 
day,  year  after  year,  amid  the  ever- swelling  rush  of 
urgent  secular  affairs." 

"  Not  a  devotional  child,"  this  "  great  Christian ' 
described  himself.  "  The  planks  between  me  and  all 
the  sins  were  so  very  thin."  "  The  inner  life  has  been 
with  me  extraordinarily  dubious,  vacillating,  and,  above 
all,  complex,"  is  his  confession  at  the  end.  All  the 
early  years  were  spent  in  that  rigorous,  narrow,  evan- 
gelical piety  which  fashioned  the  characters  of  most  of 
the  great  men  of  nineteenth-century  England.  At 
Oxford  he  is  organising  prayer-meetings.  When 
twenty-three  years  old  he  is  refusing  race-meetings 
and  theatres  as  involving  an  encouragement  of  sin. 
In  the  early  years  of  London  life  he  is  leading  the 
limited  and  austere  life  of  this  bleak  tradition.  At  first 
he  cannot  believe  in  liberty,  and  is  bitterly  hostile  to 
atheists.  As  late  as  1836  he  is  tormented  with  doubts 
as  to  whether  a  Unitarian  can  be  saved.  There  is  one 
characteristic  scene  in  his  biography,  in  which  "  I  had 
my  servant  to  prayers "  before  breakfast,  and  Words- 
worth, who  has  come  as  a  guest,  obligingly  makes  a 
third.  He  is  a  member  of  a  brotherhood  formed  by 


Acland,  with  rules  for  systematic  exercises  of  devotion 
and  works  of  mercy.  Amidst  much  that  is  inspiring 
there  is  much  also  that  is  tortuous  and  almost  morbid 
in  these  earlier  self-examinations  and  prim  rules  of 
conduct.  "  My  inherited  and  bigoted  misconceptions," 
he  afterwards  came  to  call  them.  He  has  not  yet 
escaped  from  the  stifling  conception  of  a  very  limited 
salvation  to  the  larger  and  freer  atmosphere  of  a  Catholic 

The  change,  when  it  came,  seems  to  have  been  en- 
tirely independent  of  the  great  spiritual  upheaval  at 
Oxford.  Quite  suddenly,  upon  his  first  visit  to  Rome, 
the  sight  of  St.  Peter's  aroused  a  longing  for  a  visible 
unity  of  the  Church.  "  The  figure  of  the  Church  rose 
before  me  as  a  teacher,"  in  addition  to  the  Bible, 
hitherto  the  sole  guide.  The  old  cramping  barriers 
gave  way.  A  world  vision  of  a  vast  society  and  fellow- 
ship, divinely  ordered  and  guided  for  the  salvation  of 
the  world,  never  afterwards  left  his  mind.  Hence- 
forth, amid  "  the  sublime  and  sombre  anarchy  of  human 
history,"  he  beheld,  says  Mr.  Morley,  a  Church 
Catholic  and  Apostolic,  with  "  its  ineffable  and  mys- 
terious graces "  and  its  "  incommeasurable  spiritual 
force" — an  immense  mystery.  "This  is  the  enigma, 
and  this  the  solution  in  faith  and  spirit,  in  which 
Gladstone  lived  and  moved.  In  him  it  gave  to  the 
energies  of  life  their  meaning,  and  to  duty  its  foun- 

But  a  principle  which  Oxford  failed  to  teach  her 
children  was  already  commencing  to  work.  ' '  The 
value  of  liberty  as  an  essential  condition  of  excellence 
in  human  things ' '  was  to  unite  with  this  passionate 
devotion  to  a  Catholic  Church,  and  prove  the  thread 
to  that  labyrinth  of  policy  which  made  Gladstone 



through  all  his  career  the  most  perplexing  of  states- 
men to  his  generation.  It  was  to  undermine  and 
east  aside  all  those  frameworks  of  compulsions  of 
which  in  the  early  days  he  was  so  determined  an 
advocate.  It  led  him  into  the  tearing  down  of  an 
Anglican  Establishment,  the  abolition  of  Church  rates 
and  Church  tests,  and  all  the  policy  of  liberality  and 
liberation  with  which  his  name  will  be  associated 
through  all  future  time.  Everything  had  changed  at 
the  end  but  his  religious  ideas.  His  earlier  dogmatisms 
and  disquietudes  crumbled  into  dust  as  the  years  went 
by.  But  the  deep  bedrock  beliefs  of  his  nature  in  God 
and  the  soul  and  an  immortal  life  remained  always 
abiding  and  secure.  "  The  fundamentals  of  the 
Christian  dogma,"  says  Mr.  Morley,  "are  the  only 
regions  in  which  Mr.  Gladstone's  opinions  have  no 

The  early  period  is  full  of  the  movement  of  the 
Church  revival,  with  all  its  revolutionary  consequences. 
Dissuaded  from  his  original  desire  for  the  Christian 
ministry,  Gladstone  threw  himself  into  the  world  of 
affairs  deliberately  as  a  servant  of  the  Church.  "I 
contemplate  secular  affairs,"  he  says,  "  chiefly  as  a 
means  of  being  useful  in  Church  affairs."  "Political 
life,"  says  Mr.  Morley,  "was  only  part  of  his  religious 
life."  This  crusading  energy  made  him  a  strange 
figure  in  the  realm  of  early  Victorian  politics,  amongst 
that  particular  section  of  English  life  which  has  never 
learnt  to  take  religion  seriously.  Continually  and  from 
the  beginning  he  is  protesting  against  the  infected 
atmosphere  of  Parliament.  Of  public  life,  he  con- 
fesses, "  every  year  shows  me  more  and  more  that  the 
ideal  of  Christian  politics  cannot  be  realised  in  the 
State  according  to  present  conditions  of  existence." 



He  was  ever  desiring  a  kind  of  monastic  seclusion. 
"  The  tumult  of  business  follows  and  whirls  me  day 
and  night,"  he  cries.  He  finds  no  time  for  tranquil 
collection  of  himself  or  the  cultivation  of  the  things  of 
the  spirit.  He  "  anticipates  a  time "  when  he  may 
"  hreathe  other  air." 

But  to  the  party  and  ideas  he  stood  for  his  posi- 
tion was  of  supreme  importance.  The  High  Church 
School  consisted  mainly  of  theologians  hidden  from 
the  world,  of  women,  of  amiable  country  gentlemen, 
endeavouring  to  maintain  feudal  ideas  in  an  atmosphere 
removed  from  the  new,  energetic  England.  Here  was 
a  man  adequate  to  all  occasions,  with  a  miraculous 
physical  vitality,  a  frame  of  steel,  toil  "his  native 
element."  He  stood  as  the  one  man  of  deep  religious 
conviction  endowed  with  capacity  to  direct  the  whirlwind 
and  control  the  storm.  For  the  first  time  a  statesman 
of  unparalleled  energy  and  intellect  was  to  confess  him- 
self before  the  world  an  ardent  adherent  of  these  new 
doctrines.  He  was  to  become  the  idol  of  a  middle  class 
utterly  alien  to  the  Catholic  faith  and  tradition.  He 
was  to  manipulate  national  finance,  to  encounter  and  to 
master,  at  their  own  poor  game,  the  children  of  this 
world.  Through  all  the  crowd  of  cross  purposes  and 
shabby  and  pitiful  ambitions  which  make  up  the  uni- 
verse of  party  politics  he  was  to  press  forward  as  one  on 
a  journey,  passing  to  a  sure  end. 

Confusion  and  perplexity  were  produced  in  the  minds 
of  his  contemporaries  by  this  apparition  of  a  man 
with  convictions  and  an  ideal  amid  the  shadows  and 
phantoms  of  the  time.  During  the  first  sixteen  years 
of  his  political  life  in  close  association  with  his  two 
greatest  friends,  Manning  and  James  Hope,  he  was 
daily  planning  efforts  for  the  restoration  of  the  Church. 



The  London  movement  advanced  independently  of  the 
Oxford  movement,  although  along  parallel  lines.  "I 
stagger  to  and  fro  like  a  drunken  man  "  was  Gladstone's 
comment  when  he  saw  the  great  leader  passing  to  a 
hostile  communion.  He  was  never  quite  in  sympathy 
with  Newman.  His  thought  was  too  objective  for  free 
communion  with  that  subtle  mind.  The  motive  was 
never,  as  in  Newman,  ardour  for  a  personal  salvation, 
but  shame  at  "  the  laying  waste  of  the  heritage  of  the 
Lord."  The  six  years  that  followed  were  years  of  a 
tense  anxiety.  Then,  in  1851,  came  the  great  dis- 
ruption and  separation  which  changed  the  whole  vision 
of  the  future.  "  Fully  believing  that  the  death  of  the 
Church  of  England  is  among  the  alternate  issues  of  the 
Gorham  case,"  he  yet  clung  to  the  cause  to  which  his 
life  had  been  dedicated.  But  Manning  and  Hope 
passed  over  to  the  other  side.  "  Their  going,"  he 
records  in  his  diary,  "  may  be  to  me  a  sign  that  my 
work  is  gone  with  them."  "  Nothing  like  it  can  ever 
happen  to  me  again."  It  was  the  close  of  an  epoch. 

Ten  years  were  spent  in  unsatisfactory  hesitations. 
In  1859  he  could  still  be  branded  as  "  the  Jesuit  of  the 
closet — really  devout,"  and  the  "  Simeon  Stylites  of  his 
time."  But  the  principle  of  liberty  was  steadily  work- 
ing. The  change  from  Oxford  to  South  Lancashire 
meant  an  escape  from  shadows  into  the  strong  if  cold 
light  of  day.  In  1863  he  commenced  relationships  with 
Protestant  Nonconformists.  Their  whole  point  of  view 
was  alien  to  his  own.  Often,  as  in  the  education  con- 
troversy, he  strained  their  loyalty  to  the  breaking-point. 
They  were  "  attracted  by  his  personal  piety,  though  re- 
pelled by  its  ecclesiastical  apparel."  While  his  own 
Church  regarded  with  distrust  or  hatred  the  greatest 
layman  it  has  ever  possessed,  the  Nonconformists 



followed  him  with  a  splendid  devotion.  "We  believe 
in  no  man's  infallibility,"  said  Spurgeon;  "but  it  is 
restful  to  be  sure  of  one  man's  integrity."  Only  at 
the  last,  when  he  advocated  a  scheme  for  granting  self- 
government  to  a  Roman  Catholic  nation  containing  a 
Protestant  minority,  many  with  sorrow  turned  aside  and 
walked  no  more  with  him. 

And  through  all  the  gigantic  endeavour  of  these  later 
years  the  interior  life  continued  its  progress.  Gladstone 
will  appear  in  history  as  the  " practical  mystic"  ;  one  of 
those  apparitions  which  exercise  amid  a  world  of  cloudy 
purpose  so  miraculous  a  power.  The  consciousness  of 
personal  responsibility,  the  sense  of  a  Divine  call  and 
election  for  service,  the  apprehension  of  a  particular 
Providence,  the  increasing  recognition  of  the  necessity 
for  some  definite  preparation  for  the  hour  of  death  and 
the  day  of  judgment ;  these  great  commonplaces  of  the 
religious  life  are  continually  with  him.  Of  a  particular 
speech  at  the  outset  of  his  career : — "  A  poor  perform- 
ance," he  writes,  "  but  would  have  been  poorer  had  He 
never  been  in  my  thoughts,  a  present  and  powerful  aid." 
"  On  most  occasions  of  very  sharp  pressure  or  trial,"  he 
testifies,  "  some  word  of  Scripture  has  come  home  to 
me  as  if  borne  on  angels'  wings."  In  election  contests 
or  Budget  speeches  he  is  strengthened  by  verses  of  the 
Psalms.  On  his  rejection  by  Oxford  University  the  first 
lesson  in  church  supplies  his  need: — "  And  they  shall 
fight  against  thee,  but  they  shall  not  prevail  against 
thee,  for  I  am  with  thee,  saith  the  Lord  of  Hosts." 
Successive  birthdays  always  drove  him  back  in  medita- 
tion to  the  basic  principles  of  his  faith.  On  his  sixtieth 
birthday  "  The  Almighty  seems  to  sustain  and  spare  me 
for  some  good  purpose  of  His  own,  utterly  unworthy  as 
I  know  myself  to  be.  Glory  be  to  His  name."  Ten 



years  afterwards,  at  the  close  of  the  intoxicating 
triumphs  of  the  Midlothian  campaign,  he  "  professes  to 
believe"  that  the  hattle  has  been  fought  for  justice, 
humanity,  freedom,  law. 

"  If  I  really  believe  this,"  he  writes,  "then  I  should 
regard  my  having  been  morally  forced  into  this  work  as 
a  high  election  of  God.  And  certainly  I  cannot  but 
believe  that  He  has  given  me  special  gifts  of  strength 
on  the  late  occasion,  especially  in  Scotland.  Three 
things  I  would  ask  of  God  over  and  above  all  the  bounty 
which  surrounds  me.  This  first,  that  I  may  escape  into 
retirement.  This  second,  that  I  may  speedily  be 
enabled  to  divest  myself  of  everything  resembling  wealth. 
And  the  third — if  I  may — that  when  God  calls  me  He 
may  call  me  speedily." 

There  was  to  be  given  him  another  great  decade  of 
life,  a  struggle  against  doubt,  cowardice,  and  the 
accumulated  wrongs  of  time,  which  in  its  large  energies 
and  enthusiasms  already  seems  the  record  of  some 
combat  of  giants  in  a  half  fabulous  past.  And  at  the 
end  there  was  given  him  also  that  gift  which  he  had 
desired  so  eagerly  and  so  patiently,  the  interval  of  tran- 
quillity and  preparation  "between  Parliament  and  the 

Two  sentences  adequately  sum  up  the  inner  life  of 
Gladstone.  The  objective  result  is  recorded  in  the 
magnificent  phrase  addressed  to  him  by  an  unknown 
correspondent : — "  You  have  so  lived  and  wrought  as  to 
have  kept  the  soul  alive  in  England."  The  inner 
springs  of  action  are  revealed  in  the  line  from  the  3rd 
Canto  of  the  Paradiso,  which  he  accepted  as  possessing 
an  "  inexpressible  majesty  of  truth  " — as  if  spoken  by 
the  very  mouth  of  God  :  "  In  la  sua  volontade  e  nostra 
pace":  In  His  Will  is  our  Peace.  To  the  obedience 

113  I 


of  that  Will  he  dedicated  all  the  ardour  of  a  soul  beyond 
all  men's  impetuous  and  impatient.  "  The  final  state 
which  we  are  to  contemplate  with  hope  and  seek  by 
discipline,"  he  wrote,  "  is  that  in  which  we  shall  be  one 
with  the  will  of  God." 

The  effort  demanded  a  continual  examination  and 
struggle.  He  "  achieved  self-control,"  is  the  testimony 
of  his  wife,  "  by  incessant  watching  and  prayer."  In 
all  the  Christian  centuries  no  more  splendid  gifts 
have  been  offered  with  whole-hearted  devotion  and 
humility.  The  age  has  travelled  beyond  the  special 
intellectual  affirmations  of  Gladstone's  belief.  His 
principles  were  matured  before  the  theory  of  evolution 
and  modern  research  had  created  a  new  world.  But 
the  great  ends  and  ideals  of  the  passion  of  his  soul, 
the  "  bright  crystal  laws  of  life,"  in  Mr.  Morley's  fine 
phrase,  "  endure  like  pointing  stars  guiding  a  traveller's 
eye  to  the  celestial  pole  by  which  he  steers."  A  large 
benefaction  remains  to  us  and  succeeding  generations 
from  so  shining  an  example.  He  raised  above  the 
turmoil  of  the  politics  of  a  day  a  supreme  moral  ideal. 
He  reconciled  the  large  claims  of  a  Catholic  faith  with 
the  assertion  of  liberty  as  an  essential  condition  of 
excellence  in  human  things.  He  maintained  always 
against  the  slow  stain  of  the  world's  contagion  the 
detachment  and  ardour  of  an  inner  life  fixed  in  entire 
submission  to  the  will  of  God.  High  efforts  such  as 
these  are  as  essential  to-day  as  in  that  vanished  universe 
of  Gladstone's  first  radiant  dawn.  To  those  amongst 
whom,  in  however  limited  a  sphere,  is  offered  a  possibility 
of  a  similar  enterprise,  his  life  stands  secure  in  the 
courses  of  Time ;  a  challenge  to  all  striving  after  transi- 
tory things,  a  message  of  victory  in  the  troublous  years 
to  come. 



THE  ecclesiastical  life  is  never  a  very  cheering  docu- 
ment. The  atmosphere  is  often  thin  and  rarefied, 
the  interests  divorced  from  the  varied  experience  of  the 
common  thought  of  men.  In  so  many  success  has  meant 
the  cautious  pursuit  of  a  well-trodden  way.  Who  now 
remembers  the  name  of  the  Archbishop  of  Canterbury  of 
a  hundred  years  ago  or  the  penultimate  Dean  of  Lich- 
field  or  Archdeacon  of  London  ?  But  where  personality 
and  strength  are  conspicuously  present,  the  life  of  the 
priest  or  minister  acquires  an  especial  interest.  Always 
there  is  the  challenge,  was  it  for  that  reason  or  for  this, 
that  he  forsook  the  combats  of  the  world  and  entered 
the  service  of  a  spiritual  kingdom  ?  And  of  late  years 
interest  has  been  intensified  by  the  general  break-up  of 
the  traditional  theology.  There  are  many  to-day  who 
are  astonished  that  an  honest  man  can  still  call  himself 
a  Christian,  or  assent  to  formularies  historic  and  out- 
worn. There  are  others  perplexed  to  reconcile  the 
Christian  ethic  with  the  modern  economic  organisation 
of  society,  and  scorn  God  because  the  cry  of  the  poor 
exercises  so  scanty  a  disturbance  amid  the  apathy  of  the 
Sabbath  congregation.  The  past  few  years  have  been 
heavy  in  the  loss  of  those  to  whom  these  and  other 



questions  were  very  pressing.  Their  lives  are  an 
attempt  at  answers.  Temple  was  one  of  the  strong 
men  of  the  century.  Creighton  was  the  most  agile 
and  interested  mind  of  his  day.  Westcott  as  a  scholar 
and  a  thinker  stands  heyond  the  reach  of  challenge. 
Dolling  was  a  personality  who  exercised  a  particular  in- 
fluence and  attraction.  The  lives  of  these  men  should 
be  fruitful  in  questions,  if  not  in  answers,  to  this  problem 
of  faith  disturbed  and  uncertain  guidance  which  broods 
over  the  future  of  England. 

"  We  cannot  understand  how  these  opinions  can 
be  held  consistently  with  an  honest  subscription  to 
the  formularies  of  our  Church,  with  many  of  the  funda- 
mental doctrines  of  which  they  appear  to  us  essentially 
at  variance."  So  forty-two  years  ago,  in  scathing  con- 
demnation, two  archbishops  and  twenty-five  bishops 
publicly  denounced  seven  writers  who  had  united  to 
issue  a  little  volume  of  theological  essays.  Nine  years 
afterwards  the  first  of  these  writers  was  appointed  by 
Gladstone  Bishop  of  Exeter.  A  vast  hubbub  arose. 
Petitions  poured  in  from  Protestants  and  Ritualists, 
joining  against  the  common  enemy.  The  Chapter  were 
urged  to  refuse  to  confirm  the  election.  "  I  have  letters 
from  all  parts  of  the  country,"  said  the  Dean  of  Exeter, 
"  about  the  sword  of  the  Lord  and  Gideon,  exhorting  us 
to  go  to  prison  and  promising  us  visits  there."  On  the 
day  of  consecration  bishop  after  bishop  protested  ;  one 
(still  living)  "  in  the  fear  of  God  and  the  Church  " ; 
others  counselling  delay  or  wringing  their  hands  in 
despair.  Time  ultimately  swept  the  clamour  into 
silence.  Thirty  years  after,  this  man  who  had  been 



judged  by  his  Church's  leaders  as  dishonest,  died  one 
winter  day  amidst  a  universal  tribute  to  a  rugged 
honesty — Frederick,  Lord  Archbishop  of  Canterbury. 

Few  lives  have  been  able  to  show  so  dramatic  a 
revolution.  Those  who  would  understand  the  real 
nature  of  the  man  can  be  recommended  to  study  the 
record  of  the  long  dead  controversy  over  "Essays  and 
Reviews."  Entombed  in  the  dusty  immensity  of  Arch- 
bishop Tait's  life  is  a  chapter  of  Tait-Temple  letters 
which  for  vigour  and  interest  in  ecclesiastical  corre- 
spondence can  only  be  paralleled  by  the  Newman- 
Manning  letters  in  Purcell's  first  edition.  Tait,  after 
promising  to  protect  the  writers,  had  yielded  to  the 
agitation  and  signed  that  scathing  document  of  condem- 
nation. Later  he  attempted  to  persuade  Temple  to 
desert  the  other  essayists  and  leave  them  to  their  ruin. 
The  replies  ring  true  and  tempered  across  the  interven- 
ing years.  It  is  strength  against  suavity.  Here  is  the 
restrained,  passionate  protest  of  a  man  who  feels  himself 
wronged  by  the  weakness  and  uncertainty  of  a  friend 
cowering  before  a  storm  of  public  opinion.  "  If  you  do 
not  wish  to  alienate  your  friends,  do  not  treat  them  as 
you  have  treated  me."  "  Nothing  on  earth  will  induce 
me  to  do  what  you  propose.  I  do  not  judge  for  others, 
but  in  me  it  would  be  base  and  untrue."  "  You  ought 
not  to  make  it  impossible  for  a  friend  to  calculate  on 
what  you  will  do."  "  The  greatest  kindness  you  can 
now  do  me  is  to  forget  till  all  this  is  over  that  any 
friendship  ever  existed  between  us."  "  Your  friends 
complain  that  they  cannot  count  on  you.  Your  enemies 
say  they  can."  The  sentences  sear  and  burn  after  all 
the  lapse  of  time.  Not  often  do  high  dignitaries  who 
attempt  compromise  thus  learn  the  truth.  The  man  is 
revealed  in  a  moment  of  time.  He  is  true  as  steel, 



honest  as  the  day,  with  deep  affection  beneath  the 
outward  harshness.  He  scornfully  refuses  to  exculpate 
himself  at  the  expense  of  his  comrades.  He  regards  as, 
perhaps,  the  meanest  act  of  which  a  public  man  could 
be  guilty,  the  sacrifice  of  a  cause  or  a  friend  to  such  an 
aimless,  despicable  thing  as  the  clamour  of  the  crowd. 

These  were  the  heroic  days  of  Liberalism.  This 
little  book  and  these  seven  denounced  men  become  the 
centre  and  rallying  cry  of  the  movement.  Temple  had 
not  always  been  of  this  faith.  At  Oxford,  with  almost 
all  others  of  his  generation,  he  had  been  influenced  by 
the  Catholic  revival.  I  once  heard  him  describe  the 
fascination  exercised  over  the  University  by  Newman 
from  St.  Mary's  pulpit,  with  a  voice,  as  he  pictured  it, 
like  a  silver  bell;  a  pleading  for  righteousness  and 
the  judgment  of  God  with  the  piercing  simplicity  of  a 
child.  In  the  break-up  which  followed  he  threw  himself 
with  energy  into  the  liberal  movement.  The  position  of 
the  "Essays  and  Reviews"  has  now  become  an  accepted 
commonplace  in  the  Church.  As  in  the  history  of  the 
dreaded  five-point  Charter  in  politics,  men  now  only 
wonder  at  the  consternation  evoked  by  so  mild  a  pro- 
gramme. But  the  spirit  of  these  writers  in  religion  as  in 
politics  is  as  necessary  to-day  as  yesterday.  The  prin- 
ciple which  underlay  the  definite  position,  the  right  of 
free  inquiry,  the  acceptance  of  knowledge,  indifference  to 
accusations  of  dishonesty  and  the  hostility  of  all  that 
is  comfortable  and  orthodox,  were  never  more  needed 
than  now.  From  the  grave  the  words  of  the  great 
Archbishop  come  with  a  message  of  encouragement. 
"  I  joined  in  writing  this  book  in  the  hope  of  breaking 
through  that  mischievous  reticence  which,  go  where  I 
would,  I  perpetually  found  destroying  the  truthfulness 
of  religion.  I  wished  to  encourage  men  to  speak 



out."  The  study  of  theology  and  criticism,  "  BO  full 
of  difficulties,  imperatively  demands  freedom  for  its 
conditions.  To  tell  a  man  to  study,  and  yet  bid  him, 
under  heavy  penalties,  come  to  the  same  conclusions 
with  those  who  have  have  not  studied,  is  to  mock 
him.  If  the  conclusions  are  prescribed  the  study  is 

And  if  his  first  legacy  to  modern  Liberalism  is  a 
lesson  of  honesty  and  of  progress,  his  second,  no  less 
needful,  is  a  lesson  of  work.  He  was  neither  a  great 
thinker,  nor  a  great  scholar,  nor  a  great  orator.  He 
was  in  many  respects  typically  English ;  practical,  not 
visionary,  hating  humbug  and  cant,  sturdily  pursuing 
his  own  business.  There  was  work  to  do,  and  he  set 
himself  to  do  it.  Plodding  forward,  shifting  aside  the 
faint  and  laggard,  trampling  down  anything  that  opposed 
his  progress,  he  drove  along  the  machine :  with  creak- 
ing and  protest,  rusty  joints  and  unoiled  hinges :  but 
still  ever  moving.  A  worker,  he  tested  others  by  their 
work.  Not  Carlyle  himself  enforced  more  emphatically 
the  Gospel  of  Labour.  This  was  the  key  to  all  his 
ecclesiastical  policy  so  little  understood,  so  much 
debated.  For  millinery  and  sham  he  had  no  respect 
whatever.  He  disliked  ritual,  and  where  he  found  it 
hollow  and  lifeless,  he  ruthlessly  condemned.  Amidst 
endless  apocryphal  stories  two  may  be  accepted  as 
authentic.  He  always,  to  the  regret  of  High  Church- 
men, celebrated  at  the  North  side  of  the  altar.  At 
one  advanced  church  at  which  he  was  to  officiate  the 
ingenious  authorities  had  determined  to  force  him  to 
assume  the  Eastward  position.  The  Bishop  found  the 
sides  of  the  altar  elaborately  barricaded  with  flowers 
and  greenery.  At  the  proper  moment,  however,  with- 
out any  apparent  emotion,  he  sturdily  tramped  through 



the  palms  and  lilies,  and  standing  amidst  the  flower- 
pots, to  the  astonishment  of  the  congregation,  concluded 
the  ceremony  with  calmness.  On  another,  in  one  of 
the  dead  "  Catholic  "  churches  of  the  West  End,  he 
entered  at  the  tail  of  a  long  procession  marching 
towards  the  brilliantly  lighted  altar.  The  procession 
entered  the  chancel,  but  without  the  Bishop.  In  the 
hush  of  surprise  a  stentorian  command  resounded  from 
the  end  of  the  nave,  "  Put  out  those  lights."  These 
being  hastily  extinguished,  the  Bishop  tramped  his 
solitary  way  up  the  awestruck  church.  The  vicar 
afterwards  attempted  remonstrance.  "  But  at  St. 

A s,  my  lord  (naming  a  church  in  a  poor  district), 

you  allowed  altar-lights."  "  They've  got  the  kernel  as 
well  as  the  husk,"  was  the  discomforting  response. 

Yet,  despite  this  habitual  attitude,  under  his  rule 
such  developments  of  ritual  were  permitted  as  London 
had  never  before  seen.  So  long  as  work  was  progressing 
— in  the  old  language,  BO  long  as  souls  were  being 
saved — he  tolerated  the  widest  divergence  in  non- 
essentials.  In  London's  great  welter  of  heathenism 
and  crime  he  refused  to  persecute  those  whose  fruits, 
however  grown,  were  visibly  good.  Ritual  seemed  to 
him  so  unimportant,  five  or  five  hundred  candles, 
marchings  round  the  church,  quaint  or  picturesque 
clothing.  He  would  have  permitted  a  procession  to 
enter  on  their  heads  if  it  would  have  aided  the  great 
cause.  The  result  of  this  toleration  was  a  Church 
crisis,  Mr.  Kensit,  Lady  \Vimborne,  and  a  Protestant 
agitation  which  disturbed  his  successors  but  troubled 
him  not  at  all.  That  a  man  should  be  in  the  least 
moved  by  popular  clamour,  or  yield  to  a  cause  through 
the  noise  of  its  adherents,  seemed  to  him  not  so  much 
cowardly  as  absurd. 



To  the  last  he  remained  strong  in  the  principles  for 
which  he  had  fought  with  Gladstone  in  the  old  days. 
Yet  he  grew  profoundly  dissatisfied  with  the  condition 
of  English  politics.  A  few  months  before  his  death, 
when  we  were  discussing  present-day  questions,  he 
suddenly  burst  in  upon  us  with  the  conundrum  :  "  But 
if  you  could  call  any  living  statesman  to  power,  whom 
would  you  name  ? "  The  answer  was  impossible. 
Yet  he  always  refused  to  attempt  to  read  the  future. 
In  a  collection  of  fatuous  forecasts  of  well-known  men, 
"  What  will  the  world  be  like  at  the  end  of  the 
century?"  his  answer  stands  terse  and  characteristic: 
"  I  haven't  the  slightest  idea."  I  remember  an  evening 
when  we  deliberately  attempted  to  draw  from  him 
prophecies  of  the  results  of  present-day  movements. 
"I  don't  know,"  was  his  invariable  reply.  He  had 
done  his  work.  He  belonged  to  a  vanishing  age.  He 
knew  his  time  was  short,  that  a  new  England  had 
arisen  which  must  find  its  own  leaders  and  work  out 
its  own  salvation. 

With  others,  however,  he  noted  the  transference  of 
interest  from  political  to  economic  questions.  To  the 
end  he  was  a  strenuous  advocate  of  social  reform.  Two 
years  before  he  died  he  unexpectedly  appeared  at  the 
Brighton  Church  Congress  in  a  lethargic  discussion 
on  the  Housing  Question,  selecting  this,  as  he  said, 
from  all  the  subjects,  that  he  might  emphasise  the 
necessity  for  its  consideration  by  the  Church.  It  is  no 
secret  to  state  that  he  was  no  whole-hearted  advocate 
of  the  Government's  Education  policy.  The  Bill  as  it 
stood  was  fashioned  by  other  hands.  Though  giving 
a  general  assent  he  regarded  it  with  misgiving.  He  had 
not  the  contempt  for  "  undenominationalism  "  which  is 
now  fashionable.  But  he  recognised  the  impossibility 



of  the  present  "  religious  "  teaching  in  State  schools. 
"It  may  not  be  important,"  I  heard  him  say  a  few 
weeks  before  he  died,  "  whether  that  or  this  dogma  is 
taught  to  children  ;  but  it  is  important  that  whatever 
religion  is  taught  should  be  believed  by  the  teacher." 

"  Some  of  those  whom  the  gods  love  die  young. 
This  man,  because  the  gods  loved  him,  lingered  on  to 
be  of  immense,  patriarchal  age,  till  the  sweetness  it 
had  taken  so  long  to  secrete  in  him  was  found  at  last." 
Pater's  verdict  on  Michaelangelo  naturally  rises  to 
the  mind  in  thinking  of  Temple's  last  days.  To  those 
who  only  knew  him  at  the  close  of  his  long  career 
the  popular  verdict  of  harshness  seemed  incredible. 
Strength,  simplicity,  kindliness — these  were  the  pre- 
vailing impressions.  In  the  vastness  of  Lambeth 
Palace  he  encamped  as  a  temporary  occupant  and  on 
a  journey.  Here  were  the  simple  iron  bedstead,  the 
bare  equipment  for  work,  simple  furnishing,  simple 
meals,  in  which  one  was  encouraged  to  consume  barley 
water — a  deplorable  drink.  Messengers  poured  in  and 
out,  an  enormous  correspondence  flooded  to  the  four 
quarters  of  the  earth.  Around  him  surged  armies  of 
courtiers  and  flatterers.  In  the  midst  was  the  simple, 
family  life,  with,  at  the  centre,  the  old  warrior,  with 
eye  dim  but  force  unabated,  having  borne  unscathed 
through  a  strange  and  disordered  time  the  heart  of  a 
little  child. 

The  end  found  him  still  at  work.  A  month  before  it 
came  he  was  fulfilling  his  crowded  round  of  engagements, 
doing  the  work  of  ten  with  an  iron  constitution  which 
apparently  nothing  could  disturb — rushing  over  England 
in  long  night  journeys,  preaching,  writing,  advising,  driv- 
ing forward  the  machine.  Suddenly,  and  in  a  moment, 
the  overwrought  body  collapsed ;  he  left  the  House  of 



Lords  a  dying  man.  Slowly,  continuously,  painlessly 
the  life  ebbed  away.  With  tranquillity  and  a  certain 
blitheness  he  waited  for  the  end;  leaving  his  work 
accomplished,  carefully  taking  his  farewell  of  all, 
apologising  in  historic  words  for  being  such  an  uncon- 
scionable long  time  a-dying.  I  like  to  think  of  him  as 
seen  in  the  evening  service  in  Lambeth  Chapel — amidst 
the  memorials  of  innumerable  transitory  generations,  in 
the  broken  lights  and  shadows,  a  strong  and  heroic  figure 
reciting  with  unfaltering  accents  the  creed  of  that 
faith  which  had  sustained  him  for  eighty  years.  An 
elemental  force  vanished  with  him,  a  great  personality. 
Requiem  eternam  dona  ei  Domine :  et  lux  perpetua 
luceat  ei. 


Westcott's  life  is  the  revelation  of  a  character 
rather  than  a  record  of  ecclesiastical  history.  Out- 
wardly there  is  the  career  of  usefulness :  a  fellow- 
ship at  Trinity,  a  mastership  at  Harrow,  canonries  at 
Peterborough  and  Westminster,  a  Cambridge  professor- 
ship ;  finally,  the  great  Durham  bishopric.  But  a 
similar  course  has  been  followed  by  many  energetic  and 
mediocre  persons  now  reposing  in  unremembered  graves. 
Behind  all  this,  which  in  Westcott's  case  was  accidental, 
is  the  life  of  thought  in  which  he  really  lived.  Like 
his  comrade  Hort  in  his  country  parsonage  this  man  in 
the  main  was  concerned  with  the  things  of  the  spirit. 

It  was  a  life  of  almost  incredible  toil  combined  with 
an  ascetic  simplicity.  As  an  undergraduate,  we  hear  of 
work  from  five  in  the  morning  until  past  twelve  at  night, 
with  scanty  intervals  for  meals  and  recreation,  and  a 
biscuit  for  lunch.  Later,  "  when  we  came  down  to 
prayers  in  the  morning,"  says  his  son,  "we  would 



find  him  writing  away  with  a  pile  of  finished  letters 
before  him,  and  when  we  went  to  bed  he  was  working 
still."  At  Harrow  he  stood  for  extreme  simplicity  of 
living  and  a  plea  for  the  disciplined  life.  Here  he 
elaborated  the  idea  of  the  "  Coenobium,"  a  kind  of 
community  of  families  committed  to  three  ends — the 
conquest  of  luxury,  the  disciplining  of  intellectual 
labour,  religious  exercises.  The  scheme  was  character- 
istic both  of  the  splendour  of  the  ideal  and  the  inability 
to  appreciate  the  littleness  and  vanities  which  make  such 
an  ideal  impossible.  "  Whenever  we  children  showed 
signs  of  greediness,"  says  his  son,  "  we  were  assured 
that  such  things  would  be  unheard  of  in  the  Coenobium. 
We  viewed  the  establishment  of  the  Coenobium  with 
gloomy  apprehension."  Even  Harrow  was  unable  to 
fasten  upon  him  the  usual  intellectual  sterility  of  the 
public-school  mastership.  Volumes  of  books  on  Chris- 
tian philosophy  and  textual  criticism  were  being  issued 
all  the  seventeen  years.  This  devoted  intellectual 
labour  was  associated  with  a  complete  indifference  to 
most  things  which  men  delight  in.  Every  form  of 
luxury  was  to  him  abhorrent.  "  When  circumstances 
compelled  him  so  to  do,  he  practically  went  without  a 
meal."  He  had  an  extreme  disinclination  to  spend 
money  on  himself.  "  He  would  insist  on  pronouncing 
threadbare  and  green  coats,  condemned  by  the  universal 
voice  of  the  family,  as  '  excellent.' '  In  the  enforced 
display  of  the  bishopric  he  would  sit  huddled  up  with 
his  back  to  the  horses  in  his  carriage,  as  a  kind  of  mute 
protest  against  such  outrageous  luxury.  The  sense  of 
life's  intense  seriousness  was  ever  with  him.  "Holi- 
days he  could  hardly  take :  he  found  no  joy  in  them, 
and  more  especially  so  in  later  years.  Expenditure  on 
self  was  all  but  impossible." 



The  result  of  this  ascetic  toil  was  the  accumulation 
of  vast  knowledge  in  varied  fields.  He  was  a  scholar, 
in  the  exact  sense,  of  European  reputation.  But  with 
this  detailed,  textual  research,  which  came  to  be  the 
distinguishing  feature  of  the  Cambridge  school  of 
theology,  he  combined  a  wide  acquaintance  with  other 
forms  of  science.  He  had  dabbled  in  geology  and 
botany,  and  was  familiar  with  all  those  scientific 
discoveries  which  were  filling  the  age  in  which  he  lived 
with  noisy  echoes.  He  had  read  deep  in  philosophy, 
ancient  and  modern.  Comte,  Browning,  Baur,  Mazzini, 
were  the  modern  writers  to  whom  he  owed  most.  In 
the  last  years  of  life  he  commenced  with  all  the  ardour 
of  youth  the  study  of  those  social  questions  which  he 
held  were  the  real  problems  of  the  coming  time.  The 
novel  was  the  only  form  of  literature  with  which  he  was 
unfamiliar.  "  The  Scarlet  Letter,"  "  Jane  Eyre," 
"  Villette,"  "  Romola,"  "  John  Inglesant,"— this  is  the 
pathetic  list  of  his  library.  His  strange  failures  in 
reading  men,  the  atmosphere  of  detachment  which 
made  so  much  of  his  work  difficult  for  the  man  of  the 
street,  may  be  due  to  the  dwelling  in  a  universe  of 
ideas  alien  to  the  world  of  modern  fiction. 

His  name  will  always  be  associated  with  two  main 
efforts  :  the  elucidation  of  a  text  and  the  preaching  of  a 
philosophy.  On  the  one  side  he  is  linked  with  Light- 
foot  and  Hort  in  that  critical  and  constructive  examina- 
tion of  the  New  Testament  canon  which  was  the  special 
work  of  the  Cambridge  school.  The  Westcott  and 
Hort  text,  an  epoch-making  book,  "probably  the  most 
important  contribution  to  Biblical  learning  in  our 
generation  ";  the  great  commentaries  on  St.  John  and 
the  Epistle  to  the  Hebrews,  and  the  Revised  Version  of 
the  Bible,  are  the  permanent  memorials  of  his  life- 



work.  On  the  other  side,  he  stands  by  himself,  rather 
pathetically  alone.  He  elaborated  a  Christian  philosophy 
which  the  student  found  mystical  and  the  ordinary  man 
perplexing.  It  was  alien  to  the  prevailing  theology  of 
the  Oxford  Movement,  hard,  clear-cut,  dogmatic.  It 
found  no  acceptance  among  the  Evangelicals,  with  their 
demands  for  emotional  satisfaction  in  a  simple  creed. 
It  was  distrusted  by  the  new  Broad  Church  divines, 
cheerfully  iconoclastic  and  hating  mystery.  Occasion- 
ally the  reader  caught  an  illuminating  sentence. 
Gleams  of  a  splendour  never  felt  before  would  dis- 
close abysses  of  spiritual  meaning  behind  the  terms 
of  a  dead  dogma.  To  a  few,  this  teaching  invested 
all  things  with  a  light  that  never  was  on  sea  or 
land.  But,  for  the  most  part,  there  he  walked  alone. 
In  the  early  days  he  had  passed  through  a  period  of 
terrible  doubt.  He  speaks  of  a  wild  storm  of  unbelief 
"  from  the  midst  of  which  he  gazed  on  the  hundreds  who 
conform  with  a  kind  of  awe  and  doubt — a  mixture  of  won- 
der and  suspicion."  He  emerged  on  to  the  height  with 
a  clear  apprehension  of  spiritual  things.  All  his  later 
years  he  seemed  to  possess  a  spiritual  vision,  to  walk 
amongst  his  companions  in  the  cave  with  something  of 
the  bewilderment  of  those  who  had  seen  the  light  in 
Plato's  allegory.  One  of  his  best-known  works  was  at 
first  suppressed,  owing  to  the  demand  for  modification 
made  by  the  Society  for  the  Propagation  of  Christian 
Knowledge.  In  the  period  of  his  first  writings  the 
orthodox  were  profoundly  perplexed  by  his  utterances. 
It  is  difficult  to  summarise  his  teaching.  It  has 
been  said  that  Westcott  shifted  the  central  fact  of 
Christianity  from  the  Atonement  to  the  Incarnation. 
The  vision  of  a  humanity  burdened  with  its  sins  and 
haunted  by  terrors  of  judgment  became  changed  to  the 



vision  of  a  humanity  inspired  by  hope  and  waiting 
expectant  for  a  glory  that  shall  be  revealed.  The  con- 
cluding lines  of  Browning's  "  Karshish "  sum  up 
Westcott's  creed.  "  The  Bishop  does  not  seem  to 
believe  in  the  Fall,"  it  was  complained  of  him.  He 
scarcely  realised  the  depth  of  degradation  to  which 
human  nature  could  descend.  When  confronted  with 
some  particularly  appalling  case  of  clerical  immorality 
he  would  frankly  reject  the  overwhelming  evidence 
adduced,  upon  the  ground  that  his  categories  of  being 
did  not  include  the  existence  of  such  a  monster. 
"Humanity,"  he  was  never  tired  of  asserting,  is  "not 
a  splendid  shrine  deserted  by  a  great  king,  but  a  living 
body  stirred  by  noble  thoughts  which  cannot  for  ever  be 
in  vain." 

This  consciousness  of  the  supreme  greatness  of 
humanity  made  him  one  of  the  prophets  of  his  genera- 
tion. In  the  Incarnation  he  found  the  key  to  all 
that  social  enthusiasm  for  which  he  is  best  remembered. 
"A  critic  asks  me,"  he  sadly  complains  at  the  end, 
"  'what  has  the  Incarnation  to  do  with  war  .  .  .  with 
the  organisation  of  industry,  with  buying  and  selling — 
with  expenditure  ?  '  That  such  questions  can  be  asked 
by  a  man  of  average  intelligence  is  a  terrible  proof  of 
our  failure  to  make  our  message  known."  Religion 
must  come  from  the  twilight  of  the  Churches,  he  was 
always  insisting,  and  into  the  ways  of  men.  So  he 
preached  Christian  Socialism,  and  became  founder 
and  first  President  of  the  Christian  Social  Union, 
perplexing  the  orthodox  and  respectable  with  the  sight 
of  a  bishop  concerning  himself  with  trade  unions  and  an 
eight  hours'  day.  He  exhibited  the  rare  combination, 
of  the  mystic  with  the  practical  man.  The  most  spiritual 
of  modern  religious  teachers  descended  most  com- 


pletely  into   concern  with  the  petty  questions  of  the 

Some  very  pleasing  pictures  remain  of  scenes  in 
Westcott's  long  and  devoted  life.  There  is  the  most 
touching  combat  in  self-effacement  between  him  and 
Lightfoot,  each  refusing  to  put  himself  as  a  candidate 
for  the  professorship  before  the  other.  There  are  the 
two  sermons  in  Westminster  Abbey  preached  by  the 
solitary  sorrower  of  the  "triumvirate"  over  the  grave 
of  his  lifelong  friends.  There  is  one  aspect  of  the  man 
in  the  somewhat  eerie  meditations  in  the  great 
cathedral  at  midnight,  spent  in  thought  and  prayer  and 
communion  with  the  dead ;  a  silent  figure  in  the  moon- 
light, "when  the  vast  building  was  haunted  with 
strange  lights  and  shadows,  and  the  ticking  of  the  great 
clock  sounded  like  some  giant's  footsteps  in  the  deep 

In  sharp  contrast,  but  all  of  a  piece,  is  the  dramatic 
scene  at  Auckland  Castle,  when  the  great  coal  strike, 
which  had  desolated  a  thousand  homes,  was  settled 
by  the  personal  pleading  of  the  bishop.  He  invited 
the  masters  and  men  to  the  castle,  presided  at  a 
ioint  conference,  speaking  earnestly  for  peace :  then 
left  them  in  separate  rooms,  himself  acting  as  in- 
termediary. The  long  hours  passed,  and  no  settle- 
ment arrived :  the  crowd  which  had  gathered  in  the 
town  pressed  up  to  the  palace,  waiting  with  painful 
tension  for  any  news.  All  the  North  was  hanging  on 
the  result.  He  pleaded  with  the  owners  for  concession, 
urging  them  to  put  aside  all  the  aroused  bitterness,  to 
consider  the  question  as  it  would  be  judged  in  the  years  to 
come.  Finally,  the  force  of  sheer  goodness  prevailed  :  the 
owners  consented  to  the  compromise :  the  rest  was  a  wild 
scene  of  rejoicing  and  gratitude  in  a  thousand  homes. 



Effort,  devotion,  utter  humility,  shine  through  all. 
"If  I  had  ever  dared  to  form  a  wish,"  he  writes  con- 
cerning one  offer.  "  Here  I  have  learnt  to  feel  my  own 
deficiencies  most  keenly,"  he  confesses  to  another, 
"  and  I  have  found,  too,  those  who  are  willing  and  able 
to  teach  and  to  train  me."  With  all  this  humility  and 
kindness  there  is  no  essential  weakness.  He  warned 
as  well  as  encouraged.  His  occasional  outbursts  of 
wrath,  as  in  the  correspondence  concerning  the  action 
of  the  bishops  about  the  Revisers'  Communion,  are 
almost  terrible  in  their  intensity. 

He  saw  and  rebuked  the  vices  of  his  age  as  well  as 
its  greatness.  Many  of  his  words  were  of  doubt  and 
warning.  Here  was  no  soft  and  easy  gospel  to  be 
accepted  by  a  nation  living  on  the  energies  of  the  past 
and  noisily  proclaiming  itself  immortal.  "Will  the 
future  say,"  he  asked  of  this  generation,  "that  crumb- 
ling heap,  that  desolate  iron  surface,  tells  of  work 
performed  only  for  the  moment,  which  has  cumbered  the 
earth  with  ruins ;  those  coarse  and  mean  phrases  which 
have  corrupted  our  language,  tell  of  men  who  had  no 
reverence  and  no  dignity;  that  class  antagonism  which 
torments  us,  tells  of  the  selfishness  of  our  fathers,  who, 
when  there  was  yet  time,  failed  to  bind  men  to  men  as 
fellow-labourers  in  the  cause  of  God?  " 

Assuredly  never  was  such  warning  more  needed  than 
in  the  time  when  the  voice  has  become  silent. 

The  keynote  of  this  long  life  of  single  purpose  is 
gummed  up  in  one  of  his  great  sentences,  "  To  make  of 
life  one  harmonious  whole,  to  realise  the  invisible,  to 
anticipate  the  transfiguring  majesty  of  the  Divine 
Presence,  is  all  that  is  worth  living  for."  To  the  end 
his  unclouded  optimism  never  failed  him.  He  lived  on 
the  height.  Something  of  the  glory  seemed  to  have 

129  K 


descended  on  him  as,  with  rapt  face  and  eyes  which  saw 
things  hidden  from  the  crowd  around,  he  proclaimed 
the  reality  of  an  unseen  world  or  the  coming  of  the 
universal  restoration.  He  lived  in  constant  communion 
with  spiritual  powers.  In  the  cathedral  or  his  own 
chapel  at  night  the  dead  seemed  very  near  him.  Those 
who  have  heard  him  proclaim  his  gospel  will  long 
remember  how  the  little  shrunken  figure  became  trans- 
formed, and  the  almost  painful  humility  vanished,  and 
the  voice  took  a  sudden  note  of  power,  when,  oblivious 
to  the  presence  of  the  listening  crowd,  he  proclaimed 
the  spiritual  message  which  he  found  almost  too  great 
for  human  utterance.  Preceded  by  all  his  old  com- 
rades, leaving  the  memory  of  a  great  example,  with- 
out fear,  but  with  all  his  own  humility  and  confession 
of  sinfulness,  he  passed  triumphant  to  his  rest. 


The  life  of  Creighton  presents  a  threefold  interest. 
The  first  is  the  impression  of  the  thought  and  change 
of  a  stirring  time  as  reflected  in  the  mind  of  a  man 
of  receptive  and  catholic  sympathies.  The  second 
is  the  spectacle  not  only  of  history  making,  but  of  his- 
tory being  made,  by  one  called  to  play  a  great  part  in 
the  world's  affairs.  The  third  is  the  actual  study  of 
one  of  the  most  fascinating  (in  a  sense  one  of  the  most 
baffling)  of  the  great  men  of  the  later  Victorian  age, 
who  would  have  been  almost  equally  a  subject  of 
interest  had  he  been  Bishop  of  Mesopotamia  or 

Mandell  Creighton  was  the  son  of  a  joiner  of  Carlisle, 
who  had  made  a  runaway  match  at  Gretna  Green  with 



a  kind-hearted  woman,  "very  quick  with  her  tongue." 
Childhood  "over  the  shop  in  Castle  Street "  was  stern, 
hard,  rather  joyless.  He  passed  to  Durham,  then  to 
Oxford  ;  a  hrilliant  career  culminating  in  a  Fellowship 
at  Merton.  The  age  was  an  age  of  wide  disbelief,  when 
all  sane  and  clever  men  at  Oxford  were  supposed  to 
have  abandoned  Christianity.  Creighton  was  chiefly 
renowned  as  a  man  who  smoked  multitudinous  cigarettes 
and  read  multitudinous  French  novels,  and  in  conversa- 
tion held  pre-eminent  place  for  the  audacity  of  his 
paradoxes.  His  ordination  was  "  much  commented  on." 
He  himself  acknowledged  "  that  it  was  the  habit  in 
Oxford  to  assume  that  a  man  who  took  orders  must  be 
either  a  fool  or  a  knave,  and  that  as  people  could  not 
call  him  a  fool  they  had  concluded  that  he  must  be  a 
knave."  "  He  never  wore  his  spiritual  heart  on  his 
sleeve,"  is  the  judgment  which  would  apply  to  all  his 
life,  "  and  for  this  reason  many  thought  he  had  none  to 

Then,  too,  as  always,  he  never  suffered  fools  gladly, 
and  held  a  hearty  contempt  for  the  majority  of  his 
fellow-men.  "  We  are  told  that  all  men  are  liars," 
remonstrates  a  friend,  "  we  are  nowhere  told  that  all 
men  are  fools."  "  The  strongest  compound  of  grimness 
and  tenderness  that  I  ever  saw  or  conceived,"  is  a 

"  Dull  and  solemn  people,"  writes  a  contemporary, 
"  thought  him  flippant ;  shallow  people  thought  him 
insincere.  No  man  of  his  time  was  so  constantly,  so 
freely,  and  so  variously  canvassed,  not  always  favourably, 
but  invariably  as  a  rare  and  strange  portent,  not  to  be 
readily  classified  in  any  familiar  category  of  human 
nature.  I  remember  that  once,  on  a  tour  in  Holland  with 
two  friends,  we  talked  of  him  daily  and  never  exhausted 



the  subject ;  and  years  afterwards  I  was  told  that  it  had 
become  so  much  the  custom  to  discuss  him  at  the 
shooting-lodge  of  one  of  his  friends  in  Scotland,  that 
some  one  proposed  in  fun  to  levy  a  fine  on  any  one  who 
mentioned  his  name." 

From  the  early  time  he  showed  his  entire  concern  in 
the  practical  life,  in  the  historical  method  of  approach- 
ing questions.  Of  Darwin's  discovery,  "  the  whole 
matter  seems  to  me  to  be  very  ingenious  and  amusing," 
he  writes  airily ;  "  but  I  have  not  time  for  it,  and  would 
rather  read  some  Italian  history." 

After  his  marriage  he  vanished  from  Oxford  into  a 
Northumbrian  village,  and  was  Vicar  of  Embleton  for 
nine  years — years  of  devoted  work  and  incessant  study 
of  which  the  "History  of  the  Papacy"  was  the  main 
fruit.  From  thence  he  was  called  to  the  new  Dixie 
Professorship  at  Cambridge,  where  he  astonished  the 
dull  by  his  "  frivolity."  "  Nowhere  did  he  talk  such 
nonsense  as  in  our  Combination  Room  on  Sundays," 
was  the  admiring  verdict  of  a  friend. 

After  a  canonry  at  Worcester,  combined  with  his 
professorship,  and  a  momentary  exchange  to  Windsor, 
he  was  suddenly  promoted  to  succeed  Magee  as  Bishop 
of  Peterborough.  He  had  absolutely  no  wish  for  office. 
"  My  mind  will  go  to  seed,"  was  his  characteristic 
verdict.  "  I  shall  utter  nothing  but  platitudes  for  the 
rest  of  my  life,  and  everybody  will  write  letters  in  the 
newspapers  about  my  iniquities."  The  latter  judgment 
was  as  completely  fulfilled  as  the  former  falsified.  His 
work  at  Peterborough  first  revealed  to  the  general  world 
same  of  his  astonishing  powers,  and  there  was  a  universal 
approval  when  the  call  brought  him  to  London. 

His  five  years  in  London,  in  five  of  the  most  crowded 
and  momentous  years  of  the  century,  stamped  them- 



selves  deep  upon  the  history  of  the  time.  He  always 
resented  the  time  spent  in  curbing  human  folly.  "  Every 
ass  in  the  diocese  thinks  that  he  has  a  right  to  come  and 
bray  in  my  study,"  was  one  characteristic  complaint. 

London  he  branded  as  "this  inhuman  spot."  "  The 
world  which  he  defined  as  '  the  activities  of  this  life 
with  God  left  out '  seemed  to  him  to  invade  everything 
in  London."  He  found  himself  in  the  toils  of  inter- 
minable ritual  disputes.  He  despised  both  parties — 
the  one  for  their  foolishness,  the  other  for  their 
bigotry  and  reliance  on  the  secular  arm  ;  and  scarcely 
took  the  trouble  to  conceal  his  contempt.  His  letters 
abound  in  firm  common-sense  which  neither  party  found 
acceptable — which,  indeed,  he  did  not  expect  either 
party  to  find  acceptable.  "  We  are  all  agreed  in 
regretting  that  there  should  be  such  a  person  as  Mr. 
Kensit,"  he  wrote  to  one  party  ;  "but  the  question  how 
best  to  deal  with  him  is  a  purely  practical  one." 
"  There  is  no  reason  why  your  method  should  not  be 
tried,"  he  wrote  to  Sir  William  Harcourt  on  the  other 
side,  "  except  that  no  one  wishes  to  try  it,  but  only  to 
abuse  the  bishops  for  not  trying  it." 

His  activity  was  astonishing.  He  went  everywhere 
and  did  everything — generally  two  things  at  once.  His 
sayings  afforded  unfailing  copy  for  the  journalists 
whom  he  so  heartily  despised.  "  I  seem  to  be  always 
talking,"  is  his  complaint.  Men  wondered  when  the 
Bishop  of  London  found  time  to  say  his  prayers. 

It  killed  him  in  five  years.  At  the  end  "  he  did  not 
seem  as  if  he  wished  to  live."  He  passed  away  with 
"  God  "  on  his  lips. 

"  For  sheer  cleverness  Creighton  beats  any  man  I 
know  "  was  Archbishop  Temple's  judgment.  "  The 
most  alert  and  universal  intelligence  that  existed  in  this 



island  at  the  time  of  his  death  "  was  the  verdict  of 
Lord  Rosebery. 

All  his  life  he  remained  aloof  from  contemporary 
politics,  hut  his  judgments  are  full  of  wisdom.  In  1880 
he  definitely  came  out  on  the  platform  to  support  the 
Liberals  against  Disraeli's  Imperialism,  demanding  that 
"  we  might  go  back  from  assertions  of  our  ascendency 
to  the  duties  which  we  met  with  at  home."  Later  he 
is  appalled  at  "  the  mess  "  the  Liberals  are  making  of 
it,  and  prophesies  "  a  Conservative  reaction  that  will 
last  our  lifetime."  In  1881,  with  an  almost  uncanny 
foresight,  he  can  foretell  the  future: — 

"  England  is  not  healthy ;  she  is  going  through  a 
process  of  economical  readjustment  of  which  no  one  can 
see  the  end ;  it  may  result  in  the  development  of  new 
forces,  or  it  may  be  the  beginning  of  a  quiet  decay — not 
decay  exactly,  but  subsidence.  All  this  sorely  exercises 
the  mind  of  the  spectator  and  fills  him  with  wonder. 
Trade  and  agriculture  cannot  any  longer  go  on 
the  old  lines;  will  they  find  new  lines  or  will  they 
collapse  ?  Already  I  see  the  doctrine  of  Protection 
taking  a  strong  hold  of  the  mind  of  separate  classes. 
I  believe  that  separate  interests  will  coalesce  against 
the  public  good  and  against  the  voice  of  wisdom.  This, 
by  bringing  in  a  fallacious  solution,  will  suspend  the 
real  settlement  of  the  question  and  make  a  mess." 

He  distrusted  Gladstone  because  of  his  enthusiasms 
and  emotions.  All  his  life  he  was  an  enemy  of  emotion 
and  enthusiasm  in  public  affairs.  "  Imperial  policy  will 
drive  home  affairs  into  a  corner"  was  a  verdict  in  1885. 
He  became  a  Unionist  at  the  great  disruption.  In  the 
Armenian  agitation  he  branded  the  movement  as  "  hope- 
lessly Pecksniffian,"  because  it  refused  the  only  practical 
step,  "  to  hand  the  whole  thing  over  to  Russia."  In  the 



South  African  trouble  he  condemned  (as  so  many)  the 
Chamberlain  policy,  but  accepted  the  war  when  it 
broke  out.  "I  don't  like  war  with  the  Transvaal,"  he 
wrote  just  before  the  crisis.  "  It  may  be  a  short  cut  to 
great  schemes,  but  we  are  great  enough  to  wait."  At 
the  end  he  took  a  gloomy  view  of  the  future : — 

"  We  are  ignorant  and  refuse  to  learn.  We  are 
arrogant  and  refuse  to  sympathise.  We  believe  in 
our  general  capacity  :  we  rejoice  in  our  national  wealth. 
I  think  that  in  a  few  years  our  wealth  will  diminish  in 
comparison  with  that  of  the  United  States :  our  com- 
merce will  be  threatened  by  German  competition, 
founded  on  better  education  and  receptive  intelligence. 
We  must  urge  these  considerations — and  must  not 
settle  down,  to  live  in  a  fool's  paradise.  I  feel  that 
the  next  ten  years  will  be  a  very  critical  period  for 

He  was  the  frankest  and  most  natural  person  of  the 
time.  Whatever  he  thought  he  immediately  spoke  out 
or  wrote  down  in  his  letters.  The  results  were  often 
disastrous.  "  If  one  stops  to  be  judicious  or  wise  or 
discreet,"  was  his  apology,  "  one  simply  becomes  dull." 
He  was  undoubtedly  "too  clever":  in  many  respects 
a  kind  of  ecclesiastical  Bernard  Shaw ;  producing  the 
same  devastating  effect  on  the  plain  man.  He  had  no 
self-restraint,  and  to  the  end  remained  as  one  of  those 
children  whose  company  he  most  loved.  He  was 
inclined  to  treat  all  men,  especially  enthusiasts,  as 
children;  and  the  difficulties  of  the  Ritual  agitation 
were  greatly  increased  by  his  inability  to  convince  the 
violent  partisans  that  he  did  not  think  them  children 
quarrelling  over  toys  and  playthings.  He  hated  all 
enthusiasm,  all  fanaticism.  I  remember  hearing  him 
preach  a  University  sermon  at  Cambridge — a  sermon 



on  "Liberty,"  in  many  respects  remarkable.  He 
stalked  into  the  pulpit,  unrolled  a  conspicuous  manu- 
script, read  hurriedly  in  a  passionless  voice  without  ever 
lifting  his  eyes  from  the  paper,  and  without  a  sign  of 
emotion  stalked  out  again  at  the  end.  It  was  impossible 
to  imagine  anything  more  chilling.  Later,  as  chairman 
of  the  London  Diocesan  Conference,  he  sat  at  a  table  on 
the  dais  writing  interminable  letters  with  an  aspect  of 
cold  detachment,  while  rival  factions  howled  at  each 
other  in  the  hall  beneath.  At  the  end  he  rose  and 
dismissed  the  whole  thing  (so  it  seemed)  with  a  few 
words  of  frigid  contempt.  He  would  go  down  to 
some  suburb  to  bless  the  local  hassock,  and  the  Mayor 
and  chief  citizens  and  clergy  would  be  gathered 
together,  bursting  with  enthusiasm ;  and  he  would  rap 
out  some  statement  as  that  "this  kind  of  thing  bores 
me  to  death,"  or  that  "  the  horrible  thought  has  just 
struck  me  that  I  shall  be  doing  this  sort  of  thing  ten 
years  hence  "  ;  and  the  fervour  would  somehow  vanish 
from  the  ceremony. 

"  Bored  "  and  "  amused,"  as  the  greatest  evil  and 
the  greatest  good  in  life,  run  through  his  judgment.  His 
view  of  his  fellow-men,  and  especially  of  Englishmen, 
was  of  the  lowest.  "  Sometimes  it  seems  to  me  as  if 
the  world  was  made  up  of  moral  invalids  and  moral 
lunatics,"  was  one  verdict.  The  "  heart  of  the  English 
people  "  he  described  as  "  the  very  last  place  I  should 
wish  to  be  found  in — a  sloppy  sort  of  place,  I  take  it." 
Of  history,  "I  know  that  we  ought  to  believe,"  he  wrote, 
' '  that  mighty  movements  always  swayed  the  hearts  of 
men.  So  they  have — when  they  made  for  their  pecuniary 
interest.  But  I  believe  that  ideas  were  always  second 
thoughts  in  politics — they  were  the  garb  with  which 
men  covered  the  nudity  of  their  practical  desires.  I 



mean  that  I  can  never  ask  myself  first,  '  What 
mighty  ideas  swelled  in  the  hearts  of  men  ? '  But, 
'  What  made  men  see  a  chance  of  saving  sixpence,  of 
gaining  sixpence,  or  escaping  from  being  robbed  of 
sixpence  ?  '  What  man  was  clever  enough  to  devise  a 
formula  round  which  men  could  rally  for  this  purpose?  " 
"  The  English  mind  has  no  grasp  of  ideas,"  he  declared, 
"  and  no  sense  of  proportion.  Indeed,  the  English- 
man has  no  mind  at  all ;  he  only  has  an  hereditary 

He  heartily  despised  our  English  education,  from  the 
elementary  school  upwards.  He  branded  the  nation  as 
a  whole  as  in  that  dangerous  condition  of  "half- 
knowledge  "  which  was  more  dangerous  than  ignorance. 
He  exhibited  no  sympathy  at  all  with  the  newer  ideals 
of  social  reform,  and  seemed  to  care  nothing  for  the 
problems  of  London's  poverty.  His  real  enthusiasms 
were  reserved  for  knowledge,  for  liberty,  and  for  that 
Church  of  England  which  he  called  "  the  nation  looked 
at  from  the  religious  side,"  whose  sober  and  unemotional 
piety  seemed  to  him  the  type  of  all  that  is  best  amongst 
the  religions  of  the  world. 

He  was  a  wayward,  always  interesting,  lovable 
character.  He  hated  getting  up  in  the  morning.  He 
hated  the  high  mountains,  "the  rubbish  heaps  of 
Nature's  workshops."  He  was  passionately  fond  of 
children,  who  were  entirely  devoted  to  him.  This  love 
of  children  he  never  discovered  till  he  was  nearly  thirty : 
more  fortunate  than  Herbert  Spencer,  who  pathetically 
realised  the  attraction  of  children's  society  only  when 
an  old  man. 

"  Probably  no  one,"  writes  Mrs.  Creighton,  "was  ever  a 
better  hand  at  a  romp  than  he  was.  He  would  toss  the 
children  about  like  balls,  and  allow  them  to  ill-treat  him 



in  any  way  they  liked.  He  was  also  an  adept  at  telling 
nonsense  stories ;  sometimes  on  a  walk  with  the  children 
hanging  round  him,  each  struggling  to  get  as  close  as 
possible,  and  their  elders  also  trying  to  keep  near  enough 
to  listen ;  or  lying  full  length  on  the  hearthrug  before 
the  fire  with  all  the  children  sitting  upon  him,  making 
what  he  called  a  '  regular  pie.'  He  seemed  to  enjoy 
his  own  inventions  fully  as  much  as  his  hearers,  as  he 
spun  them  out  of  his  brain  without  a  moment's  pause." 

At  Sandringham,  just  after  being  appointed  to  the 
Bishopric  of  London,  "  yesterday  afternoon,"  he  wrote, 
"  I  was  careering  round  the  hall  with  the  Duke  of  York's 
eldest  son  on  my  shoulder,  and  Lord  Salisbury  looking 
at  my  agility  with  amazement."  A  pretty  story  is  told 
of  an  incident  of  Queen  Victoria's  last  visit  to  London. 
Standing  with  his  chaplain  in  the  crowd,  to  see  her 
pass,  the  Bishop  noticed  a  child  who  was  too  small 
to  be  able  to  see ;  so  he  gave  his  chaplain  his  hat 
to  hold,  and  lifted  the  child  to  a  safe  seat  on  his 
shoulder  whence  it  could  see  everything. 

Beneath  all  the  cleverness  and  scornful  judgment  of 
men — the  brilliancy  and  glitter  and  capacity  which 
astonished  so  many — was  the  inner  life  of  affection 
and  devotion.  I  remember  being  surprised  by  the 
sudden  depth  of  feeling  displayed  in  one  of  the  last  of 
his  sermons — a  Lent  address  to  a  small  audience — upon 
the  words  "  Incorruptible  and  undefiled  and  that  fadeth 
not  away."  The  purpose  of  life,  his  deliberate  verdict, 
was  "  an  opportunity  for  loving."  "  The  longer  I  live," 
he  wrote  in  those  last  years,  "  the  more  deeply  I  am 
convinced  that  the  true  and  abiding  qualities  are  not 
the  intellectual  qualities,  but  the  qualities  of  absolute 
simplicity  and  straightforwardness,  and  the  desire  for 
the  right." 



"To  me  the  one  supreme  object  of  human  life,"  he 
confessed  in  a  rare  revelation  of  himself,  "  is,  and 
always  has  been,  to  grow  nearer  to  God;  and  I  regard 
my  own  individual  life  as  simply  an  opportunity  of 
offering  myself  to  Him." 


The  main  outline  of  Dolling's  life  is  known  to 
all.  Here  was  a  combination  of  diverse  elements 
which  caught  the  imaginations  of  men,  and  gave  him 
a  supreme  interest  amongst  ministers  of  religion  to  the 
lay  mind.  Humanity  in  its  larger  aspects,  naturalness, 
simplicity,  a  love  of  life  and  of  all  the  varied  men  and 
women  in  the  world,  especially  the  sinners,  the  poor, 
and  those  outside  the  pale  of  the  Church ;  these  were 
some  outstanding  features  of  a  life  of  single-hearted 
devotion  to  one  high  cause.  He  never  felt  at  home  until 
he  escaped  from  the  atmosphere  of  the  theological 
college  and  the  dull  respectabilities  of  conventional 
society,  and  settled  down  in  his  Portsmouth  slum,  among 
the  people  whom  he  loved.  There  was  always  much 
wilfulness  in  him.  The  element  of  revolt  was  never 
far  from  the  surface.  The  "  dear  street-corner  out-of- 
work  people,"  as  he  calls  them,  were  always  more  con- 
gruous to  him  than  the  ordinary  well-to-do  ratepayer. 
Brought  up  in  the  old  evangelical  tradition,  his  was  a 
mind  naturally  catholic,  delighting  in  symbol  and  cere- 
monial expression  and  the  light  and  colour  of  service 
and  procession.  He  had  little  reverence  for  the  past, 
and  about  minute  points  of  ritual  he  cared  not  at  all. 
But  the  possibility  of  the  magnificence  of  church  and 
ceremony  in  the  midst  of  the  huddled,  squalid  dwellings 
of  the  poor  made  to  him  an  irresistible  appeal.  His 



artistic  sense  was  limited.  Elaborate  music  he  always 
hated,  and  the  asthetic  Catholicism  which  combined 
contempt  of  the  common  people  with  the  sensuous 
appeal  of  "  Cathedral "  service,  he  regarded  as  an 
enemy  of  mankind.  But  the  Catholic  discipline  he 
frankly  accepted.  He  held  that  irreparable  wrong  had 
been  done  to  these  common  people  by  the  practical 
neglect  of  the  Sacraments  for  so  many  centuries.  And 
he  recognised  that  the  dreary  condition  of  minds  vacant 
and  dulled  with  an  entirely  material  outlook  and  little 
power  of  resistance  to  the  forces  of  evil — the  condition 
in  which  he  found  great  masses  of  the  neglected  poor — 
could  only  be  broken  up  and  restored  to  a  living  faith 
by  the  full  inheritance  of  Sacramental  worship. 

The  years  at  St.  Agatha's  were  the  great  years  of  his 
life.  The  later  period  was  more  fruitful  in  lessons  for 
the  time.  From  the  astonishing  success  of  his  Ports- 
mouth parish,  with  the  enthusiasm  of  all  classes  of  the 
town  for  a  vigorous  social  reformer,  and  the  utter 
devotion  of  his  own  poor  people,  he  passed,  after  a 
year  of  wandering,  into  the  grey,  dead  atmosphere  of 
East  London.  The  earlier  successes  could  not  be 
repeated  in  such  a  dreary  environment.  "  Keligion 
has,  so  to  speak,"  he  confessed,  "gone  to  pieces;  there 
is  no  opposition ;  we  do  not  care  enough  to  oppose. 
God  is  not  in  any  of  our  thoughts ;  we  do  not  even  fear 
Him.  We  face  death  with  perfect  composure,  for  we 
have  nothing  to  give  up  and  nothing  to  look  forward  to. 
Heaven  has  no  attraction,  because  we  should  be  out  of 
place  there.  And  Hell  has  no  terrors." 

The  conviction  of  the  utter  wrongness  of  such  a 
condition  of  lassitude  and  of  the  disloyalty  of  a  Church 
which  allowed,  without  protest,  the  continuance  and 
propagation  of  conditions  creating  this  dreadful  ac- 



quiescence,  drove  him  in  the  last  few  years  of  his  life 
to  assume  the  function  of  a  prophet.  There  is,  perhaps, 
something  a  little  incongruous  in  the  idea  of  this 
exuberant,  happy,  rollicking  Irishman,  who  retained 
through  the  whole  of  his  life  the  heart  of  a  child,  thus 
warning  grave  and  learned  dignitaries  of  the  menace 
of  the  time.  But,  indeed,  it  was  just  this  childlike 
simplicity  which  gave  force  to  his  denunciation.  He 
saw  the  wrong  that  was  being  done  on  the  earth,  not 
with  the  eyes  of  one  who  had  grown  up  in  its  atmos- 
phere and  accepted  its  conditions  as  inevitable,  but 
with  the  insight  and  clear  power  of  judgment  of  a 
child  suddenly  confronting  the  things  of  the  present 
with  the  laws  of  justice  and  truth. 

Dolling  was  never  a  Church  defender.  He  cared 
nothing  at  all  for  the  Establishment  and  all  the  social 
influence  which  the  Establishment  represents.  "  If  your 
heart  is  aflame,"  he  said,  "  to  defend  the  Church  of 
England,  first,  at  any  rate,  see  that  you  cleanse 

"As  to  the  present  so-called  crisis,"  he  declared,  in 
the  last  time  of  upheaval,  "the  real  crisis,  the  one  that 
ought  to  make  Churchmen,  on  their  knees  in  penitence 
before  God,  confess  their  negligence,  is  that  the  vast 
majority  of  English  people  care  nothing  for  the  Church, 
many  even  nothing  for  God." 

The  smug  respectability  which  Boiling's  biographer 
brands  as  the  evil  genius  of  reformed  Christendom,  was 
his  perpetual  enemy.  As  the  end  approached  and  he 
felt  the  years  passing  without  seeing  any  great  change, 
as  he  measured  the  condition  of  such  a  parish  as  Poplar 
against  the  dull  platitudes  which  he  heard  in  high 
places,  his  denunciation  took  on  a  fiercer  tone.  The 
articles  which  he  published  in  The  Pilot  just  before  his 



death  are  a  scathing  criticism  of  "  the  genius  of  the 
Church  of  England." 

"  She  is  tied  to  a  perfectly  unworkable  system,  with 
no  power  of  adapting  herself  to  modern  needs.  She  has 
had  now  for  many  generations,  and  still  has,  a  perfect 
genius  for  destroying  all  enthusiasm,  a  genius  for  getting 
rid  of  her  best  unless  her  best  will  become  common- 
place. Is  this  too  hard  a  description  of  the  Church  of 

In  the  unhappy  bishops  he  finds  the  centre  and  head 
of  the  offence.  "  They  have  but  one  opportunist  canon 
of  dogma :  be  commonplace,  be  respectable,  after  the 
sober-minded  ritual  of  the  Church  of  England."  "On 
no  question  of  any  importance,  religious  or  social,  have 
the  bishops  given  any  lead  to  their  people  unless  they 
have  been  driven  to  it."  We  are  left  with  "  nothing 
but  a  complacent  failure."  Undoubtedly  the  strain  of 
the  work,  the  perpetual  begging  for  the  machinery  of 
the  parish,  and  the  absence  of  colour  and  life,  the 
intolerable  weariness  and  content  of  his  East  London 
people,  were  here  telling  upon  him.  "  We  are  as  a 
whole  bloodless  and  anasmic."  "  At  Portsmouth  our 
chief  duty  was  to  repress ;  here  it  is  to  incite  " — this 
is  the  burden  of  his  cry.  He  saw  wrongs  unrighted  all 
around  him ;  the  poor  perishing  and  no  man  laying  it 
to  heart.  He  found  overcrowding,  with  the  laws  pro- 
tecting the  poor  always  evaded.  "  My  people,"  was 
his  pathetic  appeal,  "  have  been  dealt  with  unjustly." 
They  have  "  never  been  given  a  chance.  Think  of  the 
houses  that  they  are  born  in,  the  overcrowding,  the 
drains,  the  damp."  "  The  law  that  safeguards  the 
poor  is  always  in  the  hands  of  those  who  do  not  put  it 
into  force."  "  Charity  only  makes  people  meaner  and 
baser,  and  will  never  prove  the  solution  of  the  problem." 



He  demanded  in  the  names  of  these  disinherited  millions, 
not  charity,  but  justice.  The  spirit  of  the  child  delight- 
ing in  its  life  gave  place  to  the  spirit  of  the  strong  man 
having  work  laid  upon  him  to  do  and  straitened  till 
it  be  accomplished.  He  went  down  to  his  death, 
appealing  to  the  whole  Church  "  for  the  righting  of 
wrongs  that  cry  continually  into  the  ears  of  the  Lord 
God  of  Sabaoth." 

Dolling' s    radiant    personality    exercised    a    unique 
fascination  upon  all   classes  of  men.     The  man  was 
entirely  sincere,  filled  with  one  persistent  enthusiasm, 
the  love  of  God  and  man.     It  is  an  Irishman  with  no 
respect  for  the  sober  conventions  of  English  life.    Some- 
times he  is  singing  comic  songs  with  his  boys  in  the 
smoke-filled  atmosphere  of  cellar  or  attic.     Again,  he 
is  leading  an  agitation  against  the  liquor  interest,  or  for 
some  measure  of  social  progress.     Criminals  are  sent  to 
him,  and  those  who  have  failed,  and  all  receive  welcome. 
He  kept  the   affection  and  confidence   of  Winchester 
through  all  struggles  and  for  ten  years.     He  encouraged 
dancing  and  healthy  joy,  and  loved  especially  his  riotous 
soldiers  and  sailors.     His  mothers'  meeting — whom  he 
addressed  as  "  My  Dears  " — was  one  of  the  most  un- 
conventional of  all  his  gatherings.     In  his  church  he 
varied  simple  extempore  prayer  with  the  elaborate  pro- 
cession and  ritual  in  which  his  people  delighted.     He 
scandalised  enormous  numbers  of  respectable  persons. 
"With  your  ultra-High  Church  proclivities  on  the  one 
hand,"  wrote  the  Warden  of  Winchester,  "  and  your 
Socialistic  teaching  on  the  other,  no  sober-minded  and 
loyal  citizen  can  be  expected  to  support  the  mission." 
"  Last  came  Father  Dolling,"  wrote  a  Protestant  paper, 
" a  biretta  perched  on  his  most  disloyal  head."     "He 
stirreth  up  the  people,"  writes  Father  Tyrrell,  "  would, 



I  suspect,  be  the  truest  formulation  of  his  ecclesiastical 
iniquities."  And  the  opposition  was  not  only  stirred  up 
among  the  Protestants.  His  social  enthusiasms  seriously 
offended  numbers  of  those  who  supported  his  Catholic 
teaching.  He  threw  open  his  church  in  Poplar  for  a 
meeting  of  protest  against  the  East  End  Water  Com- 
panies. "  The  withholding  of  rain  from  the  district," 
wrote  a  scandalised  shareholder,  "  is  God's  punishment, 
and  to  ninety-nine  Catholics  in  a  hundred,  the  present 
visitation  upon  the  East  End  of  London  is  consequent 
upon  the  appointment  of  Mr.  Dolling  to  St.  Saviour's." 
But  at  his  death  the  opposition  was  drowned  in  the  uni- 
versal recognition  that  one  had  gone  whose  place  could 
never  be  adequately  filled.  He  has  set  a  new  standard 
in  the  possibilities  of  the  Church  of  England  and  its 
relation  to  the  life  of  the  poor.  He  stands  within 
this  communion,  a  figure  filled  with  passionate  zeal  for 
justice  and  love  of  those  down-trodden  by  the  world  ; 
one  of  a  class  mainly,  alas  !  confined  to  other  branches 
of  the  Catholic  Church.  "  Many  hard  things  are  being 
said  against  us  " — his  farewell  to  St.  Agatha's  is  a 
summary  of  his  life — "  many  doubt  our  loyalty  to  the 
Church  of  England.  But  you  will  believe  us,  I  am  sure, 
when  we  say  that  we  have  had  but  one  single  aim,  to 
bring  some  poor  people  in  a  slum  in  Landport  to  the 
knowledge  of  our  Lord  and  Saviour  Jesus  Christ." 



"  They  made  me  a,  keeper  of  the  vineyards :  but  mine  own 
vineyard  have  I  not  kept." 


station  has  been  built  where  thin  branches  of 
__  railway  shoot  off  on  either  side  from  the  main 
stem.  And  hard  by  the  station  have  gathered  the 
habitations  of  men ;  so  that  the  passing  traveller  sees 
a  vision  of  little  red  houses  nestling  amid  the  cherry 
and  apple  orchards,  with  all  round  the  long  fields  of 
hops  and  growing  corn.  Down  these  steel  tracks, 
which  stretch  out  straight  over  the  level  land  till 
lost  in  the  haze  of  the  horizon,  hurries  all  the  traffic 
of  Empire.  As  we  wait,  the  drowsy  afternoon  is 
torn  with  a  shriek  and  the  earth  shaken.  In  a 
whirlwind  of  smoke  and  fire  the  mail  passes  that  is 
hurling  through  our  quiet  air  passengers  for  Brindisi 
and  Singapore.  Then  the  train  from  which  we  have 
alighted  gathers  up  its  belongings  and  thoughtfully 
puffs  its  way  after  its  violent  comrade.  Finally,  in 
quite  leisurely  fashion,  the  quaint  collection  of  carriages 
in  the  siding,  with  the  antique  locomotive  at  its  head, 
makes  up  its  mind  to  depart  down  one  of  the  divergent 
branches.  Drawing  out  from  the  little  town  sleeping 
so  quietly  in  the  June  sunlight,  it  moves  slowly  up- 
wards from  the  plain  towards  the  villages  which  lie 
among  the  hollows  of  the  hills. 


The  platform  of  each  tiny  toy  station  shows  white  in 
the  sunshine,  with  green  growing  things  and  climbing 
roses  pushing  through  the  fences  and  over  the  white- 
washed palings.  The  town  traveller,  smeared  with  the 
hurry  and  dust  of  the  cities,  finds  a  sudden  restfulness 
and  serenity  as  he  alights  at  one  of  tLese.  When 
the  train  with  its  burden  has  passed  onward,  and  the 
last  echoes  have  died  away,  something  of  the  great 
peace  of  the  summer  afternoon  gathers  round  him,  and 
envelopes  him  like  a  garment.  In  the  little  lane  which 
leads  from  the  station  to  the  village  the  air  is  filled  with 
the  scent  of  grasses  and  the  new-mown  hay.  On  either 
side  the  full  fields  stretch  upwards,  with  the  clover  and 
tall  daisies  making  a  tapestry  of  bright  colours.  There 
is  no  constant  stillness.  Now  a  light  wind  moves  along 
the  tree-tops.  Insects  with  gauzy  wings  are  dancing  in 
the  light.  There  is  a  rustling  under  the  hedges  and 
along  the  borders  of  the  meadows.  You  can  almost 
hear  the  music  of  the  sap  as  it  rises  in  its  million  tiny 
channels,  pushing  the  growing  life  outwards  into  the 
buds  and  the  petals  of  the  expanding  flowers.  Life — 
life  everywhere :  the  song  of  laughing,  overflowing  life 
is  the  melody  sung  in  exultation  and  content  by  all  the 
world  in  these  shining  summer  days.  It  is  heard 
proclaimed  in  the  hedges  crowded  with  honeysuckle 
and  wild  roses,  and  the  climbing  plants  rushing 
upwards  towards  the  sun.  It  speaks  from  the  little 
gardens  with  their  fragrant  old-fashioned  flowers — 
pinks  and  sweet-williams,  and  the  glory  of  the  tall  white 
lilies.  It  riots  triumphant  in  the  weeds  which  have 
pitched  their  camps  on  the  sides  of  all  the  country 
lanes,  now  waist-deep  in  tangled  grasses :  with  shy  blue 
flowers  hiding  in  their  depths,  and  above  a  blaze  of 
yellow  cups  and  white  stars  and  crimson  bells.  A  turn 



of  the  lane  discloses  suddenly  the  wide  panorama  of  the 
plain  from  which  we  have  climbed.  Here  is  a  good  land 
and  a  large :  a  great  green  land  with  scattered  red- 
roofed  villages,  and  standing  from  their  midst  the  white 
cones  of  the  hop-kilns  and  the  dark  towers  of  village 
churches.  In  the  boundaries  of  a  remote  distance 
brood  the  blue  round-shouldered  hills.  Across  the 
plain  into  some  mysterious  land  beyond,  run  the  straight 
white  roads — the  white  roads  which  lead  to  the  end  of 
the  world. 

The  land  is  fair  always — in  the  later  harvest,  when 
the  promise  of  the  year  is  fulfilled,  with  the  cornfields 
and  their  sheaves  alternating  with  the  hop-vines  under 
the  blue  sky ;  or  in  the  autumn,  when  all  the  leaves  are 
gold,  and  the  distant  church  spires  stand  out  from  a 
background  of  fiery  splendour  ;  but  fairest  in  the  month 
of  expectancy,  of  preparation,  when  the  year  has  first 
gathered  together  the  pageant  of  the  early  summer. 
These  are  enchanted  days,  from  the  clear  brightness  of 
the  dawn,  through  the  splendid  oppression  of  the  mid- 
day heat,  down  the  long  afternoon,  till  the  sun  drops 
behind  the  pine-trees,  and  the  light  glances  level  along 
the  world ;  and  in  the  gathering  twilight  a  thousand 
fairy  lights  kindle  over  the  great  plain,  and  on  a  still 
evening  you  may  hear  the  sound  of  many  bells.  "  Then 
shall  the  earth  bring  forth  her  increase."  Some- 
thing of  the  exultation  of  the  rich  fulfilment  of  the 
promise  has  escaped  in  such  seasons  even  into  this 
island  set  in  its  grey  northern  seas.  In  the  pollen- 
laden  air,  with  all  the  scents  and  music  of  the  world, 
the  old  apprehension  of  the  miracle  of  the  passing  of 
dead  matter  into  life,  acquires  a  sudden  vivid  meaning. 
"  He  sendeth  the  springs  into  the  valleys  that  run  among 
the  hills."  "  The  valleys  also  shall  be  so  thick  with 



corn  that  they  shall  laugh  and  sing."  "Before  you  the 
mountains  and  the  hills  shall  hreak  forth  into  singing, 
and  all  the  trees  of  the  field  shall  clap  their  hands." 


In  one  of  these  hroad  fruitful  valleys,  facing  the  sun, 
and  open  to  the  delicate  air  of  the  south,  stands  the 
village  which  has  held,  since  before  the  dawn  of  history, 
the  homes  of  the  passing  generations  of  men.  The 
houses  gather  round  the  green,  and  straggle  in  lessening 
avenues  down  the  diverging  roads.  In  the  centre  is  the 
old  inn,  the  focus  of  all  social  life,  in  the  great  parlour 
of  which  the  ancients  were  wont  to  gather  after  the  toil  of 
day,  smoking  their  long  pipes  in  a  soothing  silence.  Hard 
by  is  the  blacksmith's  forge ;  the  pond,  with  the  shadows 
of  the  tall  trees  over  it ;  and  the  general  shop ;  and 
the  little  primitive  school,  with  roses  trespassing  on  the 
palings  and  knocking  at  the  windows.  The  little  thatched 
cottages  have  their  wooden  gates  and  fences,  and  their 
red-tiled  footpaths,  and  their  gardens  gay  with  flowers. 
On  the  hill-top  is  the  home  of  a  family  with  a  high 
record  of  service  in  Church  and  State,  a  great  white 
house  with  a  little  chapel  by  it,  within  all  gold  and 
jewelled  with  coloured  glass;  and  the  tombs  of  old 
knights  in  armour  with  crossed  legs  and  folded  hands ; 
and  the  petition  for  the  prayer  of  the  passing  stranger, 
that  the  place  of  those  whose  hearts  once  beat  so  high 
with  passionate  desire  may  at  the  last  be  found  in 
peace.  And  up  the  road  that  winds  through  the 
woods  and  meadows  is  the  little  church,  with  its  old 
Norman  arch  and  square  time-beaten  tower,  gathering 
round  it  the  bodies  of  the  humble,  forgotten  dead. 
Here  was  the  centre  of  sorrow,  exultation  and  pain  :  the 



home  of  mirth  and  weeping.  The  mysteries  of  Birth 
and  of  Death  found  here  a  meaning  and  significance. 
At  length  when  the  tale  was  told  and  the  lights 
extinguished  here  were  gathered  enemy  and  friend,  saint 
and  sinner,  in  that  sleep  which  henceforth  nothing  would 
disturb  hut  the  trump  of  the  Archangel  heralding  the 
last  judgment  of  God.  Ever  within  the  vision  of  each 
patient  toiler  were  the  graves  of  his  fathers,  the  place 
where  he  also  would  one  day  be  laid.  The  tombs 
and  gravestones  travelled  backwards  to  a  near  past. 
Behind  were  the  shadowy  figures  of  the  dead,  resting 
through  all  the  centuries,  whose  blood  still  beat  in 
those  now  for  a  season  enduring  the  sunlight  and 
the  winter  rain.  And  with  the  old  church  itself, 
the  ivy-covered  windows  and  grey  arches  and  tower, 
which  had  looked  down  on  so  many  hurrying  gene- 
rations, thought  is  swept  backward  through  the  gulfs 
of  time  into  a  far-off  England;  which  once  hewed 
the  white  stone  from  the  rock  and  raised  these  towers 
and  high-roofed  arches  and  swinging  bells ;  that  in 
all  the  long  ages  to  come,  through  the  great  awaken- 
ings and  voyagings  which  were  to  carry  men  into 
stranger  and  more  hazardous  regions  than  those  first 
pioneers  ever  dreamt  of  or  desired,  this  fair  building 
should  testify  to  the  imperishable  faith  of  those  who 
thus  could  build. 


It  is  all  passing :  crumbling  visibly  year  by  year, 
almost  day  by  day :  and  the  thought  infects  with  a 
kind  of  austerity  and  sadness  the  glory  of  these  rich 
June  days.  For  into  these  remote  valleys,  long  hidden 
unheeded  amongst  the  hills,  at  length  has  entered  Pro- 



gress  :  and  Progress  with  all  the  strange  uncanny  shapes 
which  follow  in  her  retinue.  At  first  the  rout  came 
timidly,  with  hesitating  footsteps :  later  with  impetuous- 
ness  and  a  certain  arrogance  as  of  those  with  an  accepted 
supremacy  and  triumph.  The  old  inn  is  going  under, 
defeated  in  competition  with  the  new  house,  glaring 
in  the  raw  hideousness  of  red  and  white  paint ;  the 
enterprise  of  a  firm  of  neighbouring  hrewers,  with  the 
publican  a  hired  servant ;  and  active  catering  for  the 
stranger  and  the  insatiable  thirst  of  travel.  The  black- 
smith is  overshadowed  by  the  corrugated  edifice  of  the 
"Mid  Kent  Motor  Company:  Repairs  executed  at  the 
shortest  notice."  The  great  house  has  been  sold  by  the 
bankrupt  heir  of  the  old  line  to  a  family  of  German 
Jews.  The  chapel  with  its  ancient  tombs  remains 
undisturbed:  but  the  wealth  of  South  Africa  pours  as 
through  a  funnel  into  the  countryside,  and  converts  the 
peasants  who  were  sold  with  the  estate  into  a  race  of 
parasites.  Secure  in  comfort  liberally  dispensed,  they 
are  for  the  most  part  prepared  to  return  deference  and 
the  aping  of  the  old  feudal  life  to  masters  of  alien  race 
and  tradition.  The  little  church  is  in  the  main  deserted. 
Services  are  continued,  but  the  bulk  of  the  diminishing 
village  population  rarely  attend.  On  Sundays  they  gather 
in  aimless  groups  in  service-time  outside  the  new  public- 
house  or  at  the  cross-roads  to  see  the  motors  pass.  The 
Motor  is  indeed  the  keynote  of  the  newer  changes.  All 
these  June  Sundays  a  procession  of  wandering  locomo- 
tives hustles  along  the  roads  and  avenues.  The  air 
is  vocal  with  their  hooting  and  shrill  cries,  the  ritual  of 
the  New  Religion,  as  they  clank  and  crash  through  the 
village,  leaving  behind  the  moment's  impression  of  the 
be-goggled  occupants,  an  evil  smell,  a  cloud  of  grey 



Despite  this  revival  of  the  countryside,  the  newest 
industry  and  recreation  which  is  finding  a  market 
for  so  many  derelict  estates  and  bringing  a  fevered 
energy  along  the  old  roads  of  England,  the  people  are 
slowly  vanishing  from  the  village  and  the  surrounding 
fields.  No  one  notes  their  departure,  nor  greatly  cares 
whether  they  go  or  stay.  The  new  wealthy  live  in  a  life 
of  their  own,  careless  of  any  responsibility  for  the  peasant 
peoples  surrounding  them.  And  the  fanner,  adjusting 
with  astuteness  his  industry  to  the  newer  conditions,  is 
basking  in  a  brief  spell  of  prosperity.  The  land  is  pass- 
ing back  into  grass  and  pasture,  cattle  taking  the  place 
of  men.  In  the  new  fruit  farms  and  hop  farms,  during 
seed-time  the  work  is  huddled  through  by  the  old  men  and 
the  children  and  the  few  who  can  be  attracted  to  remain. 
And  the  harvest  is  reaped  by  nomadic  hordes,  lured  out 
for  a  season  from  the  slums  of  the  cities,  blinking  in  dull 
wonder  at  the  strange  world  of  sunshine  and  silences  to 
which  they  have  been  conveyed.  So  first  at  fruit-picking 
and  later  at  the  hop  harvest,  the  litter  of  their  encamp- 
ments is  manifest  in  the  day,  and  the  lights  of  their 
revelry  shine  far  into  the  night.  The  casual  labourers  of 
the  lowest  depths  of  the  cities  are  spewed  out  over  our 
green  land  riotous  and  rejoicing.  The  old  inhabitants, 
secure  in  the  pride  of  ancient  heritage,  gaze  dismally  at 
the  pandemonium.  With  such  double  assistance  from 
above  and  beneath — wealth  which  is  the  plaything  of 
rich  men  above,  poverty  which  is  their  scorn  below — 
rural  England  confronts  the  exodus  of  its  peoples  with 
a  stout  heart  and  undismayed. 

Only  the  magic  of  the  evening  becomes  charged 
with  a  sadness  in  the  memory  of  all  the  days  that 
have  gone  and  the  homes  henceforth  for  ever  desolate. 
And  in  the  stillness  of  the  summer  night,  while  the  stars 



flash  over  the  great  plain  and  one  hy  one  the  lights 
of  the  villages  go  out  into  darkness,  the  silence  with  its 
cool  air  and  scent  of  flowers  drives  home  to  the  heart 
something  of  the  sorrow  of  other  lights  extinguished,  as 
the  children  of  England  pass  from  their  own  land  into 
the  cities  where  June  itself  is  hut  a  memory. 


Far  to  the  northward,  as  the  shadow  creeps  over  the 
valley,  one  can  almost  discern  the  great  lights  streaming 
up  hehind  the  hills.  In  a  momentary  picture  appears 
the  vision  of  the  labyrinth  of  lamplit  streets,  the  crowded 
thoroughfares,  the  crowded  warrens  and  tenements,  the 
restless  life  of  those  who  have  gone. 

So  in  this  June,  with  the  magic  of  its  passing  hours, 
Time,  which  changes  all  good  and  evil  things,  fashions 
from  the  ruins  of  the  old  a  newer  England. 



HOW  to  get  there  ?  That  is  not  easy,  because  it 
is  the  place  of  all  forgotten  things.  But  across 
the  river  you  may  find  municipal  trams  inscribed  with 
its  inspiriting  title,  and  by  elbowing  out  a  few  tired 
workgirls  and  edging  away  aged  men  of  battered 
physique  obtain  the  desired  seat.  You  journey  tardily 
for  immense  spaces  of  time  past  a  moving  show  of 
shadow  shapes  of  mean  houses,  in  which  airy  nothing 
has  taken  a  local  habitation  and  a  name.  The  texture 
changes  from  slum  to  suburb  and  from  suburb  back  to 
slum.  At  length,  amid  an  impression  of  rawness, 
public-house,  and  red  brick,  the  final  jarring  outrage 
of  the  municipal  brake  announces  your  destination. 

The  cemetery  made  it  first,  established  as  far  from 
human  intercourse  as  was  compatible  with  a  reasonable 
fare  for  the  conveyance  of  the  remains  of  the  departed. 
In  the  old  English  village  the  dead  were  buried  in 
friendly  fashion  round  the  most  frequented  centre,  the 
village  church.  In  the  old  English  town  the  houses 
gathered  comfortably  by  the  churchyard  in  a  kind  of 
sanitary  reformer's  nightmare.  For  in  former  days  it 
was  desired  that  the  dead  should  be  unforgotten,  and 
death  should  be  much  in  the  minds  of  the  living.  But 
in  the  modern  city,  eager  with  its  pursuit  of  material 
comfort,  nothing  is  less  desired  than  the  evidence  of  the 



end  of  it  all,  the  presence  of  those  who  before  disquieted 
themselves  in  vain.  The  emblems  of  mortality  are  apt 
to  weaken  the  zeal  of  the  pursuit  of  a  corner  in  pork  or 
an  accumulation  of  much  goods  in  store.  So  it  came 
to  pass  that  the  dead  were  hurriedly  shovelled  into  the 
ground  at  Upper  Tooting. 

And  as  through  the  presence  of  the  dead  the  place 
seemed  secure,  gradually  there  followed  all  other  things 
that  it  is  desirable  should  be  hidden  away.  Wandering 
solitary  in  the  Tooting  uplands,  amidst  turnip  fields 
and  coarse  yellow  charlock,  I  lighted  suddenly  upon 
some  of  these.  On  every  high  hill  towered  a  monstrous 
building  of  that  particular  blend  of  austerity  and  dignity 
dear  to  the  municipal  mind.  Each  was  planned  of  vast 
spreading  dimension,  with  innumerable  blank  windows, 
surrounded  by  high  polished  walls.  Down  below  in  the 
valley,  conveniently  adjacent  to  the  cemetery,  was  the 
immense  fever  hospital,  a  huddle  of  buildings  of  corru- 
gated iron.  In  front  was  a  gigantic  workhouse ;  behind,  a 
gigantic  lunatic  asylum  ;  to  the  right,  a  gigantic  barrack 
school ;  to  the  left,  a  gigantic  prison.  Other  shadowy 
and  enormous  buildings  rose  dimly  in  the  background. 
Yet  even  the  presence  of  these  monuments  of  ruin  could 
not  arrest  the  eruption  of  mean  streets,  driven  forward  by 
the  pressure  behind  them  of  unthinkable  numbers.  All 
round  the  fever  hospital  crept  their  red  tentacles,  the 
slums  of  the  future — little  red  terraces  leaning  against 
each  other  as  if  reluctant  to  advance,  yet  pushed  bodily 
forward,  ending  in  builders'  chaos  and  the  indecent, 
naked  skeletons  of  terraces  yet  to  be. 

The  discovery  of  these  fortress  prisons  threw  sudden 
light  upon  a  problem  which  had  often  proved  difficult. 
In  Italy  and  the  South  the  English  visitor  is  shocked 
and  saddened  by  the  spectacle  of  the  old,  incredibly 



withered  and  wrinkled,  lying  in  the  sunlight  and  beg- 
ging of  the  passer-by.  Where  are  the  similar  old  of 
England  ?  At  last  I  had  found  them — behind  high 
walls,  at  Upper  Tooting.  Here  also  are  our  brigands, 
enemies  of  society,  where  they  can  trouble  society  no 
more.  In  the  South  are  the  young  also,  begging, 
uncared  for,  unless  subtly  kidnapped  by  the  Church. 
Our  orphan  young,  safely  guarded  from  that  Church's 
activities,  are  secure  at  Upper  Tooting.  So  by  a 
smooth-working,  efficient  machinery  all  superfluous 
and  unnecessary  things  are  sorted  out  and  ticketed 
and  packed  into  the  places  prepared  for  them. 

As  I  gazed  at  these  large  silent  palaces  on  the 
cold  winter  afternoon  I  was  able  to  frame  some 
picture  of  this  ordered  and  regular  existence.  All 
would  be  smooth,  polished,  spotlessly  clean  ;  warmed 
by  hot  water,  and  with  a  steam  laundry.  Par- 
ticulars would  be  scheduled  and  classified;  sanitation 
upon  the  latest  methods ;  dietary  calculated  by  a 
scientific  scale,  with  bread  weighed  by  the  ounce  and 
calculated  to  a  crumb.  Discipline  would  be  perfect,  and 
movements  directed  by  the  sound  of  a  bell.  Each 
institution  had  its  chaplain.  There  was  probably  in 
each  a  library  of  edifying  books.  Hundreds  of  thousands 
of  pounds  had  been  expended  upon  every  building,  and 
the  expense  was  borne  universally,  and,  on  the  whole, 
contentedly,  by  the  citizens  who  lived  in  the  warmth 
far  away.  Gradually  there  rose  before  the  inward  eye 
some  vision  of  the  life  within  :  and  with  that  vision  the 
apprehension  of  much  before  inexplicable.  From  the 
turnip  fields  of  Tooting  I  apprehended  the  British 
Empire  and  something  of  its  meaning ;  why  we 
always  conquered  and  never  assimilated  our  conquests ; 
why  we  were  so  just  and  so  unloved.  Amidst  alien 



races  we  have  brought  rest  and  security,  order  out 
of  chaos,  equality  of  justice,  a  patient  service  of  recti- 
tude which  is  one  of  the  wonders  of  the  world.  Yet 
there  is  not  one  amongst  these  alien  peoples  who 
would  lift  a  finger  to  ensure  the  perpetuation  of  our 
rule,  or  shed  a  tear  over  its  destruction.  For  the  spirit 
of  that  Empire — clean,  efficient,  austere,  intolerably 
just — is  the  spirit  which  has  banished  to  these  forgotten 
barrack-prisons  and  behind  high  walls  the  helpless 
young  and  the  helpless  old,  the  maimed,  the  restless, 
and  the  dead. 

Night  fell  as  thus   dismally  I  mused   amongst  the 
vegetable  gardens  of  Upper   Tooting.     The  fortresses 
which   marked    the   bulwarks    of   British    civilisation 
loomed  menacing  in  the  twilight.     A  cold  wind  stirred 
the  discoloured  grasses.     A    bell    clanged  mournfully 
from  the  distant  prison.     I  shivered  and  fled  the  scene : 
with  a  vague  discomfort  which  did  not  disappear  till  I 
had  again  mingled  with  the  procession  of  mean  street 
and  shabby  edifice ;  had  recrossed  the  river  and  recog- 
nised again  the  kindly  familiar  buildings,  the  ample 
eating-houses,  the  crowds,  if  insurgent,  unconfined.     I 
shall  never  see  Tooting  again,  but  the  memory  of  it  will 
mingle  with  many  a  disordered  dream.     And  when  I 
hear,  as  hear  I  do  daily  for  my  sins,  large  men  with 
chains  and  seals   and  rings  discoursing  upon  modern 
Imperialism,  the  Empire,  the   decadence  of  Southern 
races,  and  the  unparalleled  results  of  modern  progress ; 
I  say  nothing,  for  nothing  could  make  them  understand. 
But  there  rises  the  vision  of  the  bleak  hills  and  the 
fortress  prisons  crowning  them,   gaunt  and   silent  in 
the  dying  day.     And  the  eloquence  becomes  charged 
with  an   atmosphere   of  varying  emotion :    ironical ;  a 
little  fantastic ;  not  lacking  in  tears. 



not  send  a  philosopher  to  London,"  wrote 
Heine,  "  and  for  heaven's  sake  do  not  send  a 
poet.  The  grim  seriousness  of  all  things,  the  colossal 
monotony,  the  engine-like  activity,  the  moroseness  even 
of  pleasure,  and  the  whole  of  this  exaggerated  London 
will  break  his  heart."  The  statement  appears  to  the 
plain  man  but  the  sneer  of  the  unpleasant  foreigner, 
scarce  concealing  his  eager  envy.  The  stuccoed 
squares,  the  grave  evidences  of  accumulation,  the  lines 
of  terraces  attesting  a  placid  opulence — small  wonder, 
thinks  the  plain  man,  that  the  unpleasant  foreigner 
gnashes  his  teeth  and  rails  in  fury.  And  those  to 
whom  the  plain  man  counts  for  nothing  and  the 
stuccoed  terrace  appears  but  vanity  turn  again,  and  yet 
again,  to  hymn  the  praise  of  "London."  The  city 
standing  "  at  the  entering  of  the  sea,"  the  picturesque 
centre  of  the  commerce  of  the  world  ;  the  golden  glory 
of  Piccadilly  in  a  summer  sunset;  the  river  with  its 
dreams  of  a  dead  past  that  cannot  die,  immortalised  in 
the  "  London  Voluntaries  " ;  the  mystery  and  magic  of 
the  November  twilight  in  street  and  alley — who  has  not 
cut  his  tooth  in  salad  days  with  the  first  proclamation 
of  these  discoveries? 

Only  with    widened    knowledge    and    the    greyness 
which   life   brings   does  the  aspirant  learn  that  these 



are  not  London.  He  has  fallen  into  the  common  error 
of  mistaking  "London"  for  London.  London  is  not 
the  City,  spinning  the  financial  web  of  the  world.  Nor 
is  London  the  squares  and  parks  and  gardens  westward, 
and  the  places  of  healthful  or  of  desolate  pleasure. 
These  are  but  the  accidents  and  chance  development : 
alien  to  the  essence,  the  soul  of  London.  As  a  pleasure 
city  "  London  "  is  surpassed  by  Vienna,  as  a  centre  of 
wealth  by  New  York,  as  a  home  of  art  and  literature  by 
Paris  or  Pekin.  But  London  is  neither  a  pleasure  city 
nor  a  centre  of  wealth  nor  a  home  of  art  and  literature. 
London  is  an  aggregation — amorphous  and  chaotic  : 
six  and  a  quarter  millions  of  humanity.  The  aggrega- 
tion is  composed  of  a  homogeneous  substance  :  the  City 
Dweller — a  novelty  in  the  world — gazing  out  upon  the 
universe  from  a  crowded  street,  in  a  swarming  mob, 
from  over  the  shoulders  or  beneath  the  legs  of  his 
fellows.  He  is  coagulated  into  a  broad  smudgy  ring 
round  the  city  which  lives  and  moves.  He  dwells 
apart  from  the  city  which  desires  and  is  satisfied. 
Realisation  of  his  existence,  in  its  aimlessness  and 
acquiescence,  chills  as  with  a  sudden  bleakness  the 
feverish  enthusiasm  of  the  minor  poet  for  the  glory 
and  greatness  of  London. 

Who  will  interpret  the  soul  of  this  London — this 
condensation  of  the  unimportant  which  for  a  century 
has  sucked  in  the  life  of  the  country  districts,  and  is 
now  turning  out  a  third  or  fourth  generation  crushed, 
distorted,  battered  into  futility  by  perpetual  struggle 
towards  no  rational  end  ?  Observers  have  attempted 
the  task,  and  all  acknowledged  failure.  G.  W. 
Steevens,  after  sizing  up  America  and  India,  is  bidden 
to  perform  similar  service  for  London.  He  walks 
through  it  from  south  to  north,  from  east  to  west. 



He  notes  its  markets,  ita  food  consumption,  its 
drainage  system;  he  finds  himself  bewildered,  baffled. 
He  abandons  the  effort  as  beyond  his  powers.  Charles 
Booth  assails  the  problem  with  a  staff  of  helpers.  He 
issues  seventeen  stout  volumes,  life,  labour,  religion,  or 
the  lack  of  it,  of  the  people — Class  A,  Class  B,  maps  of 
blue,  yellow,  and  red  of  brilliance  and  complexity.  He 
confesses  he  is  no  nearer  estimation  at  the  end  of  it  all. 
Figures  by  the  hundred  thousand,  woven  into  curves,  or 
condensed  into  tables,  statistics  of  overcrowding,  of 
drunkenness,  of  pauperism,  of  crime,  all  pass  like  a  tale 
of  little  meaning,  though  the  words  are  strong.  The 
age  still  waits  for  the  interpreter  of  this,  the  strangest 
riddle  of  the  modern  world. 

Yet  this  essential  London  should  not  be  a  compli- 
cated study.  Knowing  the  life  of  one,  you  know  the 
life  of  all.  Only  no  one  has  yet  apprehended  the  life 
of  that  one.  The  city  is,  for  the  most  part,  an  end- 
less series  of  replicas — similar  streets,  similar  people, 
similar  occupations  :  crowded  existence,  drifting  through 
the  choked  and  narrow  ways.  You  journey  on  the 
tardy  tram  by  stages  linking  together  conspicuous 
gin-palaces,  the  only  landmarks  of  successive  regions : 
now  you  are  in  "Walworth,"  now  in  "  Peckham," 
again  in  "Deptford."  The  varying  titles  are  useful  but 
deluding.  The  stuff  is  homogeneous,  woven  of  drab 
buildings  and  a  life  set  in  grey.  Lay  down  an  inter- 
minable labyrinth  of  mean  two-storied  cottages.  Pepper 
the  concoction  plentifully  with  churches,  school-build- 
ings, and  block-dwellings  of  an  assorted  variety  of 
ugliness.  Cram  into  this  as  much  labouring  humanity 
as  it  will  hold,  and  then  cram  in  some  more.  Label 
with  any  name,  as  Stepney  or  Kentish  Town.  You 
have  in  essence  the  particular  ghetto  that  you  desire. 

161  M 


Beyond  this  ring  the  blotch  we  term  London  sprawls 
into  still  more  unknown  and  desolate  regions  whose  life 
is  clogged  and  heavy  owing  to  their  distance  from  the 
central  heart.  On  the  one  side,  in  a  lopsided  and 
monstrous  outgrowth,  the  city  spreads  out  into  vast 
shallow  suburbs  of  the  labouring  classes,  stretched  over 
the  marsh  land  below  the  level  of  the  sea.  Here  are 
districts  so  far  removed  from  the  place  of  work  as  to 
have  become  mere  gigantic  dormitories.  Man  rises  up 
a  great  while  before  day  to  go  forth  to  his  work  and  to 
labour  until  the  evening.  The  whole  margin  of  life  of 
the  labourer  disappears  in  the  transit.  The  scuffle  into 
the  city,  the  prolonged  and  odorous  journey,  the  scuffle 
out  again,  the  hastily  wolfed-up  meal,  curtailed  sleep, 
represent  the  home  life  of  the  people.  To  these  for- 
gotten, nameless  regions,  apart  from  the  inhabitants 
themselves  and  the  occasional  forlorn  dust-collector, 
"  no  man  comes,  nor  hath  come,  since  the  making  of 
the  world."  On  other  margins  of  the  city  the  texture 
insensibly  is  transformed  into  something  quaint  and 
strange.  The  lines  of  cottages  protrude  into  bow 
windows.  Children  are  scooped  inside  instead  of  dis- 
charged outside  the  houses.  The  population  clothes 
itself  in  black  coats,  entertains  yearnings  after  respect- 
ability, and  attends  on  Sunday  places  of  public  worship. 
This  is  Clerkdom :  Dulwich  and  Clapham  and  Harringay ; 
where  pale  men  protest  Imperialism  and  women  are 
driven  by  the  tedium  of  nothingness  into  Extension 
Lectures  or  the  Primrose  League — an  uncanny  and 
humorous  region,  illuminated  with  perplexing  ideals. 

But  these  regions  are  also  parasitic.  London  in  its 
characteristic  product  is  the  city  of  the  ghetto.  Here 
gather  the  unparalleled  masses  of  the  obscure.  They 
are  members  of  no  trades  union.  They  are  inspired  by 


no  faith  in  progress.  They  are  forgotten,  as  it  seems, 
alike  of  man  and  of  God.  Labouring  populations,  in 
which  no  one  rises  above  the  rank  of  the  local  publican, 
outnumber  the  inhabitants  of  many  great  kingdoms. 
The  dreariness  of  their  lives  does  not  depend  on  their 
poverty.  They  are  scourged  with  specific  ills,  of  which 
no  outsider  knows  or  cares.  But  the  tragedy  resides  in 
their  acquiescence  :  the  absence  of  eager  revolt  and 
protest:  the  listless  toleration  of  intolerable  things. 
They  extend  under  sunshine  and  darkness,  an  inter- 
minable acreage,  shabby,  impotent,  grotesquely  negli- 
gible. They  imbibe  open-mouthed  any  specious  illusion, 
cheering  for  blood  when  full  of  meat,  when  meatless 
clamorous  for  plunder.  Few  know  of  their  existence : 
none  realise  its  import.  Populations  of  great  colonies 
or  European  capitals  could  be  torn  from  them  without 
appreciable  diminution.  Who  would  even  be  conscious 
of  change  if,  say,  Wandsworth  or  Hoxton  vanished  with 
to-morrow's  sunrise?  A  wave  of  human  life  has  silently 
become  pent  up  into  a  menacing  congestion.  There  has 
been  nothing  like  it  before  in  the  history  of  the  world. 
Please  God,  after  its  destruction  there  shall  be  nothing 
like  it  again. 

What  of  the  race  that  is  being  reared  in  this  stagnant 
marshland,  lying  aside  from  and  unmoved  by  the  stream 
of  progress  ?  No  one  knows.  It  is  a  portentous  vision 
of  silence  :  a  mob  drifting  from  the  cradle  to  the  grave, 
without  ever  rising  to  articulate  speech.  No  poet 
immortalises  himself  in  "  Ballads  of  Bermondsey,"  or 
"  Lines  written  in  dejection  near  Haggerston."  No 
passionate  protest  from  Pentonville  rouses  as  with  a 
trumpet-call.  No  Camberwell  woman's  love-letters 
disturb  the  serenity  of  the  literary  horizon.  Visitors, 
indeed,  from  a  different  universe  of  being  penetrate 



these  regions,  attempt  to  crystallise  into  words  the 
cloudy  emotions  of  the  ghetto.  A  Gissing  will  set 
himself  to  record  the  life  of  the  decent  and  the  ignohly 
decent.  A  daily  newspaper  will  encourage  the  con- 
fession of  their  half-baked  theologies  and  atheisms.  A 
Davidson  will  proclaim,  with  a  kind  of  scorching  flame, 
the  futility  of  life  at  thirty  bob  a  week.  But  these 
interpretations  remain,  for  the  dissected  subject,  things 
distant  and  unknown.  Noise,  indeed,  he  makes  in 
abundance  in  his  brief  passage  between  two  Eternities. 
The  play  of  children,  the  mirthless  jest,  the  quavering 
militant  melody,  the  sounds  of  contest  and  blasphemy, 
rises  continually  towards  the  quiet  stars.  He  has  been 
discerned  emerging  from  beyond  the  river  at  daybreak, 
or  trampling  among  his  friends  in  a  scuffle  for  the  tram 
to  convey  him  to  his  lair  in  the  gathering  twilight.  But 
the  mystery  of  the  inner  springs  of  his  existence,  the 
happiness,  acquiescence,  or  discomfort  of  life  as  viewed 
from  the  sixth  story  of  a  block- dwelling  or  the  half  of 
a  house  in  a  mean  street,  are  locked  up  beneath  that 
harassed  inscrutable  face  of  his,  a  secret  he  will  carry 
with  him  to  the  grave. 

Such  is  the  Burden  of  London :  unfelt  by  the 
majority  who  pass  by  :  weighing  like  a  nightmare  upon 
some  of  those  who  gaze  forward  towards  the  coming 
years.  The  vision  is  of  London  not,  like  the  Holy 
City,  at  unity  with  itself:  but  a  manifest  object-lesson 
in  a  nation  falling  asunder,  "  being  old."  To-day  we 
discern  a  race  which  is  separating  into  communities 
profoundly  ignorant  of  each  others'  existence  :  cities  of 
artisans,  cities  of  clerks,  cities  of  labourers,  cities  of  the 
wealthy.  At  bottom  this  is  for  the  most  part  a  parasitic 
population :  from  which  the  higher  energies  are  not 
demanded,  and  by  which  in  consequence  these  are  not 


supplied :  lacking  the  pushfulness  of  the  artisan  of  the 
North  as  much  as  the  ohstinate  endurance  of  the 
peasant  of  the  fields.  We  apprehend  hundreds  of 
thousands  engaged  in  the  supply  of  artificial  wants,  in 
carrying  people  from  here  to  there,  in  ministering  to 
the  changing  fashion,  or  pandering  to  the  unchanging 
appetites  of  men.  And  we  recognise  a  population 
destined  ever  to  extend.  Greater  London  in  less  than 
thirty  years  is  to  amount  to  ten  millions.  The  main 
part  of  the  increase  will  be  woven  of  this  drah  material. 
North,  east,  south,  and  west  the  aggregation  is 
silently  pushing  outwards  like  some  gigantic  plasmo- 
dium  :  spreading  slimy  arms  over  the  surrounding  fields, 
heavily  dragging  after  them  the  ruin  of  its  desolation. 
And  Tooting  and  East  Ham,  and  Plumstead  and  Silver- 
town,  are  boru  into  a  world  which  shows  no  joy  at  their 
advent.  Humanity  staggers  at  the  vision  of  the  next 
generation :  uninvigorated  by  the  influx  of  the  country 
life,  ravaged  by  the  diseases  of  overcrowding  in  dwelling 
and  area,  dulness,  vacuity  of  labour,  and  lust  for  artificial 
excitement :  dead  to  the  faiths  which  once  provided  a 
tangible  background  to  existence. 

"  Revolving  this  and  many  things,"  one  can  note  the 
astonishing  prescience  of  a  poet  of  the  far-back,  long- 
despised,  "  early  Victorian "  era,  who  found  in  the 
blind  Bull-god  of  the  spoil  of  Assyria  the  image  of 
the  god  of  this  people  ;  having  wings  but  not  to  fly 
with :  and  eyes,  but  not  to  look  up  with :  bearing  a 
written  image  engraved  of  which  he  knows  not,  and 
cannot  read  it;  crowned,  but  not  for  honour: — 

"  Those  heavy  wings  spread  high 
So  sure  of  flight  which  do  not  fly, 
That  set  gaze  never  on  the  sky, 
Those  scriptured  flanks  it  cannot  see. 



Its  crown,  a  brow-contracting  load, 
Its  planted  feet  which  trusts  the  sod, 

O  Nineveh,  was  this  thy  god, 
Thine  also  mighty  Nineveh  ?  " 

But  until  the  end  is  revealed  no  man  can  know  whether 
this  or  some  other  god  be  indeed  the  god  of  the  city. 



struggle  between  belief  and  unbelief,"  said 
JL  Goethe,  "  is  the  only  thing  in  the  memoirs  of 
humanity  worth  considering."  And  the  problem  of 
the  religion  and  general  outlook  on  the  world  which  is 
likely  to  be  evolved  by  an  age  of  tranquillity  and  comfort 
is  the  problem  which  most  immediately  faces  the  civilisa- 
tion of  to-day  and  to-morrow.  For  the  first  time  in 
many  centuries,  and  especially  in  the  Anglo-Saxon  world, 
in  England,  in  parts  of  America,  and  in  the  Colonies, 
we  see  a  race  developing  who  have  experienced  nothing 
but  a  serene  and  ordered  existence.  From  the  beginning 
they  have  been  sheltered  from  the  disturbing  elements 
of  life.  They  do  not  possess  imagination  necessary  to 
realise  that  this  is  an  abnormal  and  transitory  phase  of 
the  world's  development.  All  their  accepted  ideas  in  art, 
ethics,  and  religion,  are  inherited  from  times  when  this 
tranquillity  was  lacking.  They  are  becoming  vaguely 
conscious  that  for  them  the  language  is  strained,  ex- 
travagant, unreal.  They  have  no  conception  of  the 
meaning  of  such  a  cosmic  upheaval,  the  disarrangement 
of  a  universe,  as,  for  example,  the  great  disturbance 
of  '89  in  France  or  the  deliquescence  of  the  whole 
social  order  before  the  invader  in  1870.  Even  Nature's 
catastrophies  have  been  sedulously  removed.  There  is 
no  fear  of  great  epidemics,  and  only  the  occasional  remote 



and  unrealised  echo  of  such  an  unexpected  destruction 
as  that  of  Martinique.  Undoubtedly  the  contrast  be- 
tween such  a  life  as  that  of  Dulwich  or  Toronto  or 
Dunedin  and  the  life  of  all  the  past  must  implicate  the 
coming  of  great  changes  in  human  life  and  its  outlook 
upon  the  world. 

Towards  Nature,  towards  himself,  and  towards  the 
apprehension  of  any  spiritual  principle  outside  and 
behind  these,  man's  ideas  are  becoming  profoundly 
modified.  In  Nature  he  has  come  to  recognise  the 
element  of  permanence.  He  is  at  home  for  the  first 
time  in  an  orderly  world.  The  old  fear — the  panic 
fear — of  some  sudden  menace  no  longer  lurks  in  the 
shadows.  The  feelings  of  horror  with  regard  to  Nature 
and  its  operations  and  the  feelings  of  insecurity  are 
passing  away  from  the  minds  of  men.  The  general 
view  of  Nature  which  this  new  race  is  cultivating  is 
that  of  the  well-ordered  watering-place  which  is  the 
sole  experience  of  most  of  them :  a  cleaned  beach, 
breakwaters  to  temper  the  rough  onslaught  of  the  sea, 
with  promenade  and  pier  and  safe  playing-ground  for 
the  children,  and  the  faint,  emotional  strains  of  the 
nigger  minstrels  in  the  evening. 

And  the  progress  of  intelligence  has  drawn  each  man 
closer  together  to  his  neighbour.  The  world  has 
become  one.  With  an  absence  of  any  large  and  im- 
pelling impulse  towards  reform,  men  are  vaguely  desirous 
that  all  their  neighbours  should  enjoy  some  sort  of 
similar  comfort  to  their  own.  Mr.  Gilkes,  in  his  little, 
most  suggestive  essay  on  the  subject,  has  emphasised 
this  restlessness  in  face  of  the  evidence  of  pain.  "  They 
do  not  wish  any  longer,"  he  says,  "  that  regulations 
made  by  man  should  keep  men  from  working  and  playing 
as  they  ought  to  work  and  play.  A  man  can  no  longer 



eat  his  dinner  comfortably  when  there  are  heneath  him 
dungeons  full  of  his  fellow-creatures  whom  his  own  act 
has  placed  there,  however  strictly  legal  that  act  may 
be,  and  consequently  there  is  a  general  impatience  of  all 
privilege,  all  excess  of  possession  and  of  comfort." 

With  this  altruism  which  finds  its  expression  on  the 
one  hand  in  the  largeness  of  so-called  charity,  and  on 
the  other  hand  in  the  general  demand  for  the  Churches 
to  cease  to  strive  towards  impossible  perfections  and 
spiritual  ardours,  there  has  come  a  tendency  to  acquiesce 
in  an  average  standard  of  attainment.  In  a  recent  con- 
troversy bearing  the  title  "Do  we  Believe?  "  the  popula- 
tions of  the  suburbs  poured  out  their  hearts  in  the  columns 
of  a  daily  paper.  It  was  instructive  to  note  the  general 
revolt  from  the  violence  and  disturbance  of  religions 
which  drove  men  and  women  out  of  their  accustomed 
ways.  The  demand  came  more  and  more  to  con- 
centrate upon  a  vague,  amiable  philanthropy.  The 
less  reputable  sins  were  to  be  banished.  The  duty  of 
man  was  to  lead  the  life  of  the  good  citizen,  voting 
in  parliamentary  if  not  in  municipal  elections,  and  at 
Christmas-time  making  liberal  provision  for  the  feeding 
and  clothing  of  the  poor. 

The  sense  of  sin  and  of  a  great  humility  and  all  the 
vast  machinery  of  aspiration  and  penitence  which  have 
gathered  around  these,  have  become  clouded  in  the 
minds  of  the  dwellers  in  the  modern  cities. 

But  it  is  in  the  relation  of  man  to  God  the  greatest 
changes  are  evident.  With  the  coming  of  this  gospel 
of  decency  and  good  manners  there  has  vanished  those 
ardours  and  agonies  of  the  soul  whose  interest  now 
appears  mainly  pathological.  No  one  can  be  blind  to 
the  process,  accompanying  this  diffused  ethic,  of  the 
weakening  apprehension  of  spiritual  things. 



"If  he  received  some  sign,"  says  Mr.  Gilkes  again, 
"  to  show  him  what  he  should  do,  some  sign  which 
showed  him  when  he  was  in  danger  of  doing  wrong, 
which  revealed  to  him  his  ideal,  he  might  do  right  con- 
tinually ;  but  he  receives  no  sign  ;  perhaps  once  in  a 
month  or  a  year  he  sees  his  ideal  plainly  and  God 
plainly,  but  often,  even  before  he  reaches  the  end  of  the 
road  where  he  was  when  he  saw  it,  the  colour  has  faded 
from  what  he  saw.  He  says  the  words  which  he  said 
before,  but  they  are  dead  words,  and  he  would  no  longer 
go  readily  to  death  for  the  truth  which  they  express." 

When  in  time  of  order  the  new  revolution  is  success- 
fully accomplished,  there  are  some  who  will  look  forward 
with  longing  to  the  change  beyond  the  change.  In 
the  provision  of  elements  of  permanent  value  for  the 
life  of  man  periods  of  disturbance  have  always  been 
more  conspicuous  than  periods  of  certitude.  The  times 
of  disorder  and  unsettlement  when  men  suffered  from 
oppression,  trembled  in  terror  before  vague  and  inexplic- 
able forces,  were  ravaged  by  great  plagues  and  lived 
always  in  uncertainty,  were  the  times  which  produced 
the  highest  developments  of  art  and  the  finest  flower  of 
human  character.  When  man  was  doubtful  if  he  would 
see  to-morrow's  sunrise  he  built  as  if  not  dreaming  of 
a  perishable  home.  To-day  when  he  cannot  believe 
that  death  will  touch  him,  and  his  orderly  life  stretches 
forward  as  an  endless  end  of  the  world,  he  will  leave  for 
the  amazement  of  future  ages  the  Crystal  Palace  and 
the  City  Temple  and  the  Peabody  Building. 

Dr.  Arnold,  in  his  "  Survey  of  History,"  came  to  the 
conclusion  that  after  all  the  changes  of  the  past  the 
world  was  now  entering  into  a  course  of  steady,  orderly, 
and  consistent  development  in  a  phase  from  which  the 
unexpected  would  be  abolished.  Man  would  sit  down 



comfortably  in  a  world  whose  forces  at  length  he  rightly 
estimated.  It  was  a  belief  characteristic  of  an  early 
Victorian  Age  unable  to  conceive  of  any  more  perfect 
life  than  that  represented  by  its  mahogany  sideboards 
and  its  material  opulence.  It  is  a  more  hopeful  view 
that  we  are  on  the  edge  of  a  process  of  profound  change. 
Ruins  if  furnished  with  plush  and  alpaca  and  labelled 
Brixton  and  Holloway,  will  not  provide  a  permanent 
habitation  for  the  soul  of  man.  Assuredly  the  con- 
dition of  the  ultimate  flower  of  the  process  of  evolution 
in  the  expanding  middle  class  of  England  and  America 
is  not  a  condition  of  stable  equilibrium.  They  cultivate 
habits  of  regularity.  They  weave  themselves  into 
other  men's  ideas.  They  are  cut  off  from  disturbing 
realities.  They  attend  places  of  religious  worship ;  but 
they  hear  language  of  ancient  liturgies  wrung  out  of 
passion  and  terror  which  seems  to  them  archaic  or 
meaningless.  They  are  conscious  of  a  vague,  emotional 
satisfaction  at  an  evening  service  or  singing  the  hymns 
of  childhood.  Sometimes  they  feel  a  little  queer  at  the 
death  of  a  child  or  at  the  signs  of  the  coming  of  old 
age.  Occasionally,  despite  the  avoidance  of  Nature  and 
its  mysteries,  some  old  memories,  the  smell  of  Spring 
and  Autumn,  a  wind  blown  into  the  city  with  the  scent 
of  flowers  or  up  the  river  from  the  sea,  stir  into  momen- 
tary disquietude  emotions  which  have  lain  long  buried 
under  the  weight  of  custom  and  routine.  Love  and 
Birth  and  Death,  those  divine  Anarchists,  are  always 
disturbing,  as  Plato  apprehended  long  ago,  to  any  satis- 
fied civilisation.  These,  with  the  exultations  and 
agonies  which  form  their  "  great  allies,"  may  be  trusted 
to  disintegrate  any  society  which  has  banished  mys- 
tery from  its  midst  and  turned  its  back  on  realities ; 
and  set  itself  down  to  use  and  wont,  pitiful  pleasures, 



and  the  obstinate  fear  of  change  ;  and  put  aside  the 
heavy  and  the  weary  weight  of  all  this  unintelligible 

How  the  change  will  come  it  is  impossible  to  foresee. 
Perhaps  there  may  arise  the  sudden  and  unexpected 
outbreak  of  forces  fermenting  among  the  neglected 
populations,  of  whose  existence  and  whose  hunger  for  the 
material  goods  denied  them  this  ordered  state  has  but 
little  apprehension.  Perhaps,  as  in  a  former  period  of 
Imperial  peace,  a  universally  awakening  consciousness 
may  protest  the  futility  and  worthlessness  of  it  all. 
Weariness  will  come  of  the  "  impracticable  hours  "  of 
life  divorced  from  passion  and  emptied  of  high,  spiritual 
enterprise.  However  excited,  those  concerned  with  the 
soul's  development  rather  than  with  the  attainment  of 
material  comfort  will  be  prepared  to  welcome  the  change. 
For  such  change  will  tear  down  the  veil  of  comfortable 
things,  velvet  and  cushions  and  fine  clothes,  which  man 
will  always  raise  if  he  can  between  himself  and  the 
unknown.  Behind  are  the  realities  with  whom  he  is 
never  at  ease,  and  whose  acquaintance  he  is  always 
anxious  to  elude;  himself:  the  world  of  real  things; 
God  Who  is  the  Beginning  and  the  End  of  all. 



TO  assail  one  who  has  bewildered  many  decent 
people  and  added  to  life  a  new  literary  inspiration 
is  a  thankless  and  dismal  task.  To  join  issue  with 
Mr.  Chesterton,  whose  work  is  a  perpetual  stimulus  to 
humility  and  astonishment,  would  appear  but  a  mournful 
ingratitude.  Nevertheless,  it  is  time  for  some  dull 
person  to  raise  the  banner  of  protest,  however  sober 
and  grave,  against  the  philosophy  of  life  which  Mr. 
Chesterton  is  steadily  hammering  into  the  brain 
of  the  English  householder.  The  very  brilliancy 
of  his  weapons,  the  paradox,  the  bold  metaphor,  the 
statement  which  leaves  one  doubled  up  and  speechless, 
the  divine  lunacy  of  his  intoxicated  inspiration,  foretells 
the  success  of  his  onslaught  upon  things  customary, 
honoured,  and  secure.  Avowedly  in  his  criticism  as  in 
his  poetry,  as  he  acknowledges  in  his  preface  to  his 
"  Defendant,"  Mr.  Chesterton  is  preaching  a  philo- 
sophy, maintaining  an  attitude,  announcing  a  creed. 
We  now  possess  in  his  collected  works  a  consistent 
volume  of  doctrine  which  can  be  contemplated  as  a 
whole.  Essays  on  "  Chesterton  as  a  religious  teacher  " 
will  soon  be  utilised  at  the  older  universities  to  stimulate 
aspiring  merit  with  mean  monetary  compensation.  Before 
this  consummation  arrives  it  is  well  that  the  immorality 
of  such  a  creed  should  be  demonstrated. 



With  the  side  issues  raised  by  Mr.  Chesterton  I  am 
altogether  in  sympathy.  It  is  but  the  main  contention 
which  is  ultimately  vicious.  That  Mr.  Chesterton 
should  seek  to  defend  the  obsolete  and  neglected  virtue 
of  Patriotism  is  a  subject  rather  for  praise  than  for 
blame.  That  he  should  endeavour  to  arouse  Kensing- 
ton to  consciousness  of  its  proximity  to  the  Eternal 
fires  should  make  for  Kensington's  righteousness  if  not 
for  Kensington's  equanimity.  That  he  should  attempt 
to  interest  the  English  people  in  the  English  Bible — a 
work  much  read  by  their  forefathers — is  a  commendable 
if  desperate  enterprise.  That  he  should  hail  himself  as 
God  is  only  to  be  deprecated  by  some  rival  claimant  to 
the  title.  But  that  he  should  profess  a  blasphemous 
contentment,  associate  pessimism  with  minor  poetry, 
and  extol  the  average  decent  citizen  for  his  average 
decency,  partakes  of  the  nature  of  that  sin  for  which 
there  is  no  place  for  repentance,  though  it  be  sought 
bitterly  and  with  tears. 

"  I  have  investigated  the  dust-heaps  of  humanity," 
announces  Mr.  Chesterton,  "  and  found  a  treasure  in  all 
of  them."  No  one  doubts  the  treasure  in  the  dust- 
heap.  The  difficulty  lies  in  the  apprehension  of  the 
treasure  in  the  drawing-room.  The  jewel  is  manifest 
in  that  which  humanity  discards.  It  is  less  discernible 
in  that  which  humanity  retains.  Mr.  Chesterton  holds 
that  all  dross  can  be  converted  into  gold  by  the  believing 
mind.  Nothing  is  either  good  or  bad,  he  would  say 
with  the  Danish  optimist,  but  thinking  makes  it  so. 
Assert  in  firm  tones  that  all  things  are  very  good,  and, 
lo  !  all  things  are  very  good.  It  is  a  simple  creed,  and 
yet  pleasant  when  one  considers  it.  In  the  spirit  of  his 
capering  maniac  Mr.  Chesterton  traverses  the  world 
charging  himself  everywhere  with  contentment  and 



triumph.  A  drunken  man  reels  out  of  the  beerhouse, 
zigzags  heavily  down  the  pavement,  clutches  wildly 
at  vacuity,  and  flops  into  the  garbage  of  the  gutter. 
To  himself  he  is  a  mass  of  internal  discomfort,  a 
dulled  vacancy,  and  the  earth  an  unkind  stepmother 
springing  up  to  knock  him  down.  To  Mr.  Chesterton, 
observant,  he  is  the  living  representative  of  the  happy 
peasant,  the  modern  pastoral  idyll,  and  his  soul  is  with 
the  stars.  The  good  citizen  is  journeying  through 
the  tube,  portly,  double-chinned,  reading  Bright  Bits 
and  breathing  heavily.  Should  he  but  spring  upwards, 
Mr.  Chesterton  holds,  prance  wildly  down  the  carriage 
and  spin  round  like  a  Dervish,  he  would  inaugurate  the 
golden  age.  Surbiton  is  a  city  of  mystery  and  enchant- 
ment, Penge  and  Poplar  suggest  a  restored  fairyland, 
Wapping  is  the  antechamber  to  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven. 
All  perspective  is  levelled  in  such  a  dreary  morass  of 
satisfaction.  Mr.  Chesterton  is  convinced  that  the 
Devil  is  dead.  A  children's  epileptic  hospital,  a  City 
dinner,  a  political  "At  Home,"  a  South  African 
charnel  camp,  or  other  similar  examples  of  cosmic 
ruin  fail  to  shake  this  blasphemous  optimism.  At  the 
least  he  would  design  to  make  the  Author  of  Evil  die  of 
chagrin  at  persistent  neglect,  or  perish  from  the  reple- 
tion of  persistent  flattery.  The  scheme  is  attractive 
but  delusive.  That  ancient  strategist  has  seen  so  many 
Chestertons  flare  and  fade  that  he  is  unlikely  to  be 
entrapped  by  such  naive  methods.  Nor  will  the  in- 
clusion of  good  and  evil  in  a  higher  synthesis, 
embracing  both  in  a  universal  approbation,  create 
any  permanent  or  lasting  peace  in  the  war  which  is 
being  everlastingly  waged — on  earth,  as  in  heaven. 

Progress  has  never  been  effected  but  by  persistent 
toil   and   the   emphatic   demonstration   of  the  wicked- 



ness  and  sorrow  of  the  world.  Mr.  Chesterton's 
creed  will  act  as  a  disintegrating  force  upon  the  never 
very  secure  foundations  of  this  edifice.  He  will  not, 
indeed,  be  able  to  convince  a  man  that  his  own  tooth- 
ache is  good ;  but  he  may  succeed  with  alacrity  in 
assuring  him  of  the  sanctity  and  desirableness  of  the 
toothache  of  others.  Here  is  a  citizen  who  presents  at 
times  a  singular  combination  of  the  hog  and  the  hyena, 
with  the  seed  of  a  god  stifled  beneath  deep  rolls 
of  avidity  and  desire.  All  effort  towards  fructifica- 
tion of  this  seed  is  effected  only  by  the  sudden 
flashing  into  his  face  of  some  monstrous  and  un- 
negligible  wrong.  Show  him  a  cab-horse  about  to 
trample  on  a  child,  and,  at  the  cost  of  considerable 
bodily  discomfort,  he  will  effect  a  rescue.  Raise  a 
barrier  of  use  and  wont  between  him  and  the  children 
which  he  dully  knows  are  perishing  and  he  will  consume 
his  dinner  with  withers  unwnmg.  A  holocaust  of  four- 
teen thousand  children  was  demanded,  with  all  the 
incredible  accompaniments  of  bereavement,  loss,  and 
longing,  before  he  realised  in  blear-eyed  manner  that 
away  in  South  Africa  his  clumsy  hoof  was  crushing 
something  delicate  and  divine.  Tell  him  that  (say) 
Bermondsey  is  a  blasphemy  of  stunted,  distorted 
existence,  outrage  alike  on  God  and  man,  and  he 
may  be  startled  into  the  effort  towards  reform. 
Tell  him,  as  Mr.  Chesterton  tells  him,  that  down 
in  Bermondsey  the  gas  lamps  are  fairy  bubbles,  the 
atmosphere  is  magical  and  charged  with  emotion,  that 
each  fuddled  toper  is  in  Paradise  beneath  the  approval 
of  the  eternal  stars ;  with  a  deep  content,  thanking 
God  that  he  is  rid  of  a  knave,  he  turns  him  again  to 

Mr.  Chesterton  holds  that  all  things  are  very  good. 


He  may  assert  that  he  has  a  certain  reputable  precedent 
for  such  a  statement.  The  plea  cannot  be  entertained. 
God  found  all  things  "  very  good."  Such  a  discovery  is 
a  prerogative  of  divinity.  No  man  can  look  on  God 
and  live ;  and  no  man  can  live  who  sees  things  as  God 
sees  them.  Mr.  Chesterton  would  urge  us  to  believe 
that  each  man's  life  is  illuminated  by  the  same  light 
which  he  himself  discerns,  though  it  were  never  on  sea 
or  land.  It  is  the  pathetic  fallacy,  eternally  untrue. 
"  The  same  sun  shines  on  the  windows  of  the  alms- 
house  as  on  the  walls  of  the  castle."  Never  was  there 
a  profounder  delusion.  The  sun  which  shines  on  the 
castle  is  not  the  sun  that  shines  on  the  almshouse. 
Contentment  terminates  in  mortification.  Complete 
satisfaction  is  indistinguishable  from  death. 

Mr.  Chesterton,  alive  himself,  would  fain  persuade  us 
that  other  men  and  women  are  alive.  He  assumes  a 
point  which  he  would  find  it  impossible  to  prove.  Men 
and  women  have  been  alive :  there  are  intervals  in  the 
career  of  the  most  obscure  when  they  should  be  alive. 
But  the  chief  accusation  against  the  modern  city  is 
that  it  has  choked  so  many  innumerable  human  lives : 
a  mob  moving  who  are  dead.  Compared  with  this 
outrage,  the  massacre  of  actual  assassination  fades  into 
insignificance.  At  three  periods,  at  least,  humanity 
should  rise  above  the  line  of  life.  For  a  moment  they 
should  live  as  children,  in  the  world  of  fairyland  peopled 
by  a  strange  and  kindly  race  who  pursue  generous 
action.  For  a  moment  they  should  live  again  when 
through  sudden,  passionate,  inexplicable  emotion  men 
and  women  look  into  each  other's  eyes  and  realise  their 
kinship  with  the  stars.  And  for  a  moment  they  should 
live  at  death — though  the  experience,  it  has  been 
noted,  usually  comes  too  late  in  life  to  be  of  much 

177  N 

practical  utility.  But  in  the  life  of  the  modern 
crowd  crushed  into  a  mass  of  blurred  humanity 
these  avenues  of  the  spirit  are  choked  and  blighted. 
Childhood  is  clumsily  spoiled  and  broken  by  the  mis- 
placed ingenuity  of  the  "  Grown  folk,  mighty  and 
cunning."  Courtship  is  the  panting  pursuit  of  Phyllis 
by  Strcphon  round  the  block-dwellings,  or  the  sombre, 
nudging  pilgrimage  through  a  city  of  dreadful  night. 
And  most  men  die  with  a  grunt  or  a  bleat,  lamenting 
the  lack  of  gin,  or  protesting  that  they  could  drink 
pea  soup.  We  have  never  seen  a  man  die,  was 
Thoreau's  challenge;  because  we  have  never  yet  seen 
a  man  alive. 

Once  man  apprehended  that  God  walked  with  him 
in  the  garden  in  the  cool  of  the  day.  Then  he  could 
lift  his  eyes  to  the  magical  world  about  him  and 
Heaven's  unchanging  stars.  Now  the  Archangel  stands 
at  the  entrance  with  the  flaming  sword  in  His  hand; 
attesting,  on  the  one  hand  the  effort  needed  for 
return,  on  the  other  the  futility  of  acquiescence  in  any 
lesser  aspiration.  Mr.  Chesterton  would  assuage  the 
divine  hunger  by  the  pretence  that  outside  the  wilder- 
ness is  fair.  The  man  with  the  muck  rake  can  obtain 
the  golden  crown,  not  by  the  painful  effort  to  look  up- 
wards, but  by  weaving  the  sticks  of  the  floor  into  a 
coronet  and  assuring  himself  that  it  is  gold.  Man  has 
wandered  into  the  wilderness  and  solitary  places.  It  is 
well  for  him  if  here  he  finds  no  city  to  dwell  in.  Mr. 
Chesterton  would  urge  him  to  build  booths  of  boughs, 
assure  him  that  Paradise  is  here  or  nowhere,  expound 
to  him  the  grandeur  of  the  desert  scrub,  and  the  glory 
of  the  desert  sand.  Far  on  the  horizon  shines  the 
Land  of  Promise,  demanding  first  for  its  attainment  a 
divine  discontent  and  an  eager  pushing  forward.  Effort 



unwearying,  the  sweat  and  blood  of  men,  the  wreck  of 
a  thousand  lives,  a  world  travail  of  pain,  has  been  the 
price  men  have  paid  for  permission  sometimes  to 
whisper  to  each  other  in  the  twilight  that  all  things 
are  very  good.  The  ultimate  tragedy  of  history,  at 
which  the  sun  veiled  his  face  and  the  pillars  of  the 
earth  were  shaken,  was  necessary  in  order  that  humanity 
might  be  able  to  cherish  for  nineteen  disordered  centuries 
the  desperate  hope  that  God  is  Love. 



IN  pursuit  of  my  trade  as  a  reviewer  of  books  it  befell 
a  while  ago  that  I  was  reading  two  volumes  deal- 
ing with  subjects  of  especial  interest.  The  one  was  a 
description,  compiled  with  enthusiasm  and  pride,  of  the 
triumphs  of  the  New  America.  The  other  was  a  record, 
a  little  sentimental,  but  very  pleasant  and  simple,  of 
the  lives  of  the  followers  of  Francis.  And  the  chance 
combination  of  two  such  subjects  set  one  a-thinking. 
The  new  America  exhibits  a  nation  definitely 
organised  for  one  purpose,  straining  every  nerve  and 
sinew  to  attain  that  end.  "Business"  is  the  all- 
absorbing  interest ;  by  the  side  of  which  nothing  else 
counts  at  all.  The  nation  is  joyously  set  on  the  com- 
mercial conquest  of  the  world.  As  in  former  times  the 
people  organised  throughout  as  a  military  race  was 
enabled  to  trample  down  all  rivals,  so  in  a  commercial 
age  the  people  which  has  with  devotion  moulded  every- 
thing towards  commercial  energy  is  destined  to  crumple 
up  its  less  single-hearted  competitors.  The  vision  is 
presented  of  a  life  where  all  other  interests  are  ruth- 
lessly planed  away.  In  parallelogramed  cities  of 
monotonous  architecture,  amid  the  shrieks  of  whistles 
and  the  noise  of  telegraphs  and  monsterphones,  a  vague 
impression  appears  of  eager  men  in  a  crowd.  They  rise 
hastily  from  sleep  to  rush  from  factory  to  counting- 


house,  consuming  meals  in  their  shirt-sleeves  and  toiling 
with  a  rude  energy  which  is  one  of  the  wonders  of  the 
modern  world.  Leisure,  solitude,  art,  literature,  medita- 
tion, religion — all  these  are  brushed  aside  as  by-pro- 
ducts, apart  from  the  main  business  of  life.  Socialism 
has  made  less  progress  than  in  any  other  civilised 
country  :  with  each  man  possessing  the  marshal's  baton 
in  his  knapsack,  why  turn  aside  to  raise  all  to  the  level 
of  lance-corporal !  High  above  the  throng  tower  the 
figures  of  those  who  have  attained :  a  Jay  Gould,  a 
Vanderbilt,  a  Carnegie,  who  started  with  the  proverbial 
penny.  Such  unified  energy  is  producing  its  results. 
Already  the  old  nations,  with  their  militarism  and  their 
ideals,  are  feeling  the  commencement  of  the  strain  :  the 
cry  has  gone  forth  for  a  Europe  united  against  the 
common  enemy — the  new  Barbarians  knocking  at  its 
doors.  But  the  flimsy  barriers  which  such  a  Europe 
can  erect  are  destined  to  be  swept  aside.  The  figures 
of  commercial  progress  for  even  ten  years  in  America  are 
something  stupendous ;  in  steel,  in  oil,  in  pig,  in  cotton, 
the  output  springs  upward  in  a  night.  For  the  moment 
there  is  respite  while  the  internal  markets  absorb  the 
energies  of  the  factories;  but  in  a  few  years'  time 
America  will  once  more  leap  forward  to  the  commercial 
exploitation  of  the  world.  In  the  perfect  adaptation  of 
means  to  an  end  and  the  throwing  over  as  lumber  of  all 
that  does  not  subserve  that  end  she  stands  unrivalled. 
We  bow  to  our  future  conquerors. 

America  is  changing  beneath  our  very  eyes.  Yester- 
day's books  concerning  her  are  antiquated  ;  descriptions 
of  ten  years  ago  are  hopelessly  out  of  date  ;  between  the 
writing  of  a  book  and  its  publication  half  its  facts  have 
changed.  Yet  the  New  America  still  awaits  its  inter- 
preter. What  exactly  is  the  meaning  of  the  events 



daily  recorded  ;  not  in  terms  of  oil  or  pig,  but  in  their 
inner  and  larger  meaning  ?  What  is  the  significance, 
i.e.,  of  the  vast  system  of  popular  colleges  in  the  cities 
of  the  Mississippi  Valley  ?  What  contribution  to 
human  welfare  is  provided  by  (say)  Athens,  Georgia  ? 
What  exact  function  in  the  spiritual  progress  of  man- 
kind is  performed  by  the  Sixth  Methodist  Episcopal 
Church  of  Minneapolis  ?  These  are  the  kind  of  problems 
upon  which  we  seek  light. 

American  civilisation  has  "  come  to  centre  about  the 
conception  of  life  as  a  matter  of  industrial  energy." 
With  rude  strength,  utter  devotion,  and  boisterous 
energy,  the  American  capitalist  and  worker  have  com- 
bined in  alliance  for  the  commercial  exploitation  of  the 
world.  Life  itself  vanishes  in  the  terrific  elaboration 
of  the  giant  machine.  In  America  there  are  "  two 
kinds  of  slaves,  the  nigger  and  the  white."  Youth 
is  everywhere  evident.  "  Under  the  new  strenuous 
regime  there  are  no  old  men."  Men  as  well  as  machines 
are  thrown  with  reckless  disregard  to  the  scrap-heap. 
"America  is  paying  more  for  her  industrial  success 
than  we  would  care  to  pay ;  more,  indeed,  than  humanity 
can  afford."  The  women  alone  live.  While  these  read 
books,  discuss  art,  or  pilgrimage  through  Europe,  the 
men,  in  the  midst  of  the  shrieks  of  whistles  and  the 
clang  of  machinery,  provide  a  panorama  of  a  stampede 
from  counting-house  to  factory,  wolfing  up  meals  of 
oyster-stew  in  an  atmosphere  of  perpetual  dyspepsia. 

"Where  are  all  your  old  men ?  "  asks  the  visitor  as 
he  gazes  at  young,  tired  faces  everywhere.  "  Come  up 
to  the  cemetery  and  I  will  show  you,"  is  the  genial 

The  Spanish  war  marked  a  deep-cut  moment  of 
change ;  and  the  American  nation  is  still  intoxicated 



by  the  ease  with  which  it  crumpled  up  an  historic  military 
power.  To  the  other  nations  of  the  world  its  entrance 
into  Welt-politik  has  been  like  a  descent  of  a  brigade 
from  the  planet  Mars,  wielding  a  force  singularly  potent, 
absolutely  new,  and  not  quite  accountable.  The  result 
has  left  the  American  people,  on  the  one  hand,  with  the 
legacy  of  great  possessions  :  "an  American  Empire  is 
arising."  Forgetting  their  greatest  President's  dictum 
that  "the  Almighty  never  made  a  people  good  enough 
to  rule  over  other  people,"  stimulated  by  the  alluring 
claptrap  concerning  the  White  Man's  Burden  and  the 
Trustees  of  Progress,  with  the  unlimited  possibilities 
of  trade  exploitation  that  "expansion  "  always  provides, 
they  have  set  themselves  to  the  task  of  elevating  the 
Philippines  and  Cuba  to  the  civilisation  of  Chicago. 
And  on  the  other  hand,  with  the  taste  for  blood  once 
whetted,  their  appetite  for  large  interventions  has  been 
aroused.  So  they  lecture  Roumania  on  its  treatment  of 
the  Jews,  consider  the  possibility  of  intervention  in 
Turkey,  and  elaborate  a  Navy  for  fresh  conquests.  In 
a  few  years  the  lectures  are  destined  to  find  their  fruit 
in  action :  and  with  that  action  the  Coming  Race  enters 
into  its  heritage. 

Turn  from  this  vision  of  the  complacent,  shouting 
twentieth  century  to  the  pictures  of  the  influence  of  an 
ideal  in  that  strange  Europe  of  seven  centuries  ago. 
Life  is  rude  and  troubled.  Wars  and  brutalities  abound, 
the  Empire  and  the  Church  are  fighting  for  a  world 
mastery ;  wolves,  as  in  Salimbene's  picture  of  the 
miseries  of  the  time,  howl  under  the  walls  of  the 
little  cities  of  Italy  and  at  night  enter  the  towns  and 
devour  men.  There  is  little  comfort  and  no  content. 
Life  has  not  yet  come  to  revolve  round  an  economic 



centre.  But  in  all  the  chaos  of  a  world  but  imperfectly 
comprehended,  full  of  fear  and  strange  adventure,  there 
are  interests  leading  to  high  spiritual  endeavour  and  the 
triumph  of  the  soul.  The  wonder  is  not  in  the  unique 
and  gracious  figure  of  Francis.  This,  indeed,  is  a 
miracle.  But  similar  if  less  complete  miracles  abound 
in  the  history  of  Christendom.  But  it  lies  in  the  spirit 
of  the  sons  of  Francis  :  in  that  madness  from  beyond 
the  boundaries  of  the  world,  which  fell  upon  so  many 
quite  ordinary  men,  merchants,  soldiers,  citizens,  who 
in  this  century  might  have  served  a  Beef  Trust  or 
engineered  a  corner  in  wheat.  After  twelve  hundred 
years,  attempts  had  again  been  made  faithfully  to  follow 
the  life  of  the  Master.  The  living  example  of  the 
Christian  life  had  once  more  proved  its  appealing  power. 
And  the  thirteenth  century  recognises  for  a  moment  at 
least  the  key  to  the  secret  of  the  transitory  life  of  man. 
By  the  end  the  spiritual  impulse  is  fading  into  the  light 
of  common  day ;  the  followers  of  Holy  Poverty  are 
becoming  less  faithful  in  their  allegiance.  But  even  at 
the  end,  a  hundred  years  after  the  Blessed  Francis,  the 
new  Art  is  drawing  all  its  inspiration  from  his  life  and 
teaching.  Dante  is  proclaiming  the  greatness  of  the 
Franciscan  ideal ;  and  such  a  miracle  can  happen  as 
that  strange  pilgrimage  of  kings  and  cardinals  to  the 
mountains,  to  bring  down  from  his  refuge  amongst  the 
clouds  a  hermit  who  in  a  moment  of  madness  or 
inspiration  had  been  elected  to  the  proudest  position  in 
the  world,  to  inaugurate  the  golden  age. 

Haunting  the  whole  of  this  tumultuous  and  fascinat- 
ing time  is  the  ideal  of  the  Great  Restoration  :  the 
sense  of  impending  change  in  that  visible  revelation  of 
the  Kingdom  of  God  to  which  the  best  minds  turned 
with  the  eager  longing  of  children.  The  third  Kingdom, 



the  Kingdom  of  the  Holy  Spirit,  was  about  to  dawn. 
To-day,  or  at  furthest  to-morrow,  the  Angel  of  the 
Everlasting  Gospel  would  proclaim  the  entrance  of  the 
armies  of  God. 

They  are  a  fascinating  company — these  children  of 
Francis,  the  members  of  the  new  order  of  spiritual 
chivalry  enrolled  in  the  service  of  their  Lady  Poverty. 
First  are  those  who  were  with  him,  Nos  qui  cum  eo 
fuimus,  possessing  some  infection  as  it  were  of  the 
altogether  personal  charm  that  surrounds  the  little  poor 
man  of  Assisi.  Bernard,  who  had  loved  him  so,  died 
protesting  "  I  feel  in  my  soul  that  for  a  thousand  worlds 
I  would  not  have  been  other  than  a  servant  of  Christ. 
Hear  my  prayer,  that  ye  love  one  another."  Eufino 
nursed  him  at  the  end.  Giles  in  his  high  perch  at 
Perugia  spoke  his  rough  words  of  common  sense  and  saw 
visions  of  eternal  things.  Masseo's  life  was  broken  by 
the  death  of  his  master.  Leo,  the  pecorello  di  Dio,  the 
little  sheep  of  God,  so  humble  and  patient,  could  kindle 
into  fierce  anger  at  the  violation  of  the  rule  in  the 
building  of  the  great  Church  of  San  Francesco,  the 
wonder  of  the  world.  And  after  these  came  the  long 
succession  of  those  who  gladly  took  up  the  torch  from 
the  first  followers,  rejoicing  in  the  revelation  of  the 
secret.  In  front  are  a  few  selected  figures  :  Salim- 
bene,  the  kind-hearted  gossip  and  traveller,  in  whose 
Chronicles  lives  all  the  life  of  the  mediaeval  world; 
or  John  of  Parma,  the  great  General  of  the  order, 
journeying  on  foot  from  house  to  house  along  the  roads 
of  Europe,  taking  the  humblest  place  and  the  meanest 
duties  at  his  visitations,  as  befits  the  greatest  in 
this  stronge  reversal  of  human  standards :  in  the 
banqueting-hall  of  the  king  found  amongst  the  tables  of 
the  poor.  The  strangest,  most  attractive  figure  is 


Jacopone  da  Todi,  with  his  austerities  and  his  joyous- 
ness  ;  his  tender  songs  over  the  Christ  Child  and  his 
poetry,  through  which  breathes  the  open  air  and  all 
the  hot,  coloured  life  of  Southern  Italy :  "  sun  and  sky 
and  flowing  water  and  flower-lined  roads."  Visions  of 
unimaginable  sweetness  attend  him  in  his  prison  ;  the 
End  in  Good  unimagined  and  measureless  Light  is  ever 
before  him  ;  he  weeps  "  because  love  is  not  loved  "  and 
"  would  fain  have  suffered  for  the  demons  in  hell  and 
have  seen  them  go  before  him  into  Paradise."  At  his 
death  "  it  was  believed,"  says  the  chronicler,  "by  those 
standing  near  that  he  died,  not  so  much  conquered  by 
his  malady,  though  that  was  grave,  as  from  an  extra- 
ordinary excess  of  love."  And  behind  these  greater 
figures  is  a  multitude  ol  forgotten  common  people 
who  have  caught  fire  at  the  message  and  whose  life  has 
become  transformed  ;  as  those  who  set  out  to  convert  the 
Mohammedans,  or  the  Friars  that  came  joyfully  singing 
into  Stynkynge  Alley  in  the  city  of  London  in  Eng- 
land, or  the  obscure  and  shadowy  figures  who  are 
discerned  tending  the  lepers  or  following  the  track  of 
the  great  armies  to  nurse  the  wounded  and  bury  the 

Later  there  is  conflict  between  the  strict  and  the 
relaxed ;  the  world  rolls  in  again  and  stifles  the  ideal ; 
and  the  faithful  retire  to  the  mountains  with  gloomy 
prophecies  of  ruin  to  become  the  soured  and  bitter 
Fraticelli  of  the  fourteenth  century.  But  in  this  early 
time  the  vision  seemed  not  far  away.  There  is  a  strange 
reason,  a  kind  of  disordered  common  sense,  an  unanswer- 
able and  rather  distressing  logic,  subversive  of  the 
respectabilities  and  the  gospel  of  success  about  these 
followers  of  Madonna  Poverty.  Here  are  none  of  the 
austerities  and  contempt  of  the  world,  the  pitiless 



laceration  of  the  body  of  an  earlier  and  gloomier  time. 
Though  pilgrims  and  strangers,  seeking  a  country,  they 
go  singing  through  a  land  which  for  them  is  very  fair. 
They  love  all  natural  things — the  unclouded  sky  and  the 
hot  nights  of  Umbria.  Lacking  all  possessions  they  are 
full  of  song  in  praise  of  God.  They  love  all  men  and 
women,  are  passionately  affectionate  one  to  another. 
They  are  cheered  by  the  abiding  vision  of  the  un- 
seen world.  Life  when  released  from  the  intolerable 
burden  of  possessions  they  proclaim  as  very  good. 
There  is  a  blitheness  here,  somehow  vanished  from  the 
modern  manufacturing  city ;  an  absurd  satisfaction  in 
the  picture  of  the  world  as  a  cloister  lacking  in  the  more 
up-to-date  picture  of  the  world  as  a  factory. 

And  despite  the  changes  of  the  intervening  years,  how 
singularly  contemporary  is  their  appeal !  The  Sacrum 
Commercium  Beati  Francisci  cum  Domina  Paupertate, 
the  prose  version  of  Giotto's  picture  in  the  lower  Church 
at  Assisi — in  its  eloquence  and  shrewdness  the  summary 
of  the  whole  spirit  of  the  Franciscan  revival — might 
have  been  written  yesterday.  St.  Francis  in  his  quest 
for  Holy  Poverty  will  go  to  the  great  ones  and  to  the 
learned  sages.  This  he  did.  But  the  great  ones  and 
the  sages  answered  him  hardly,  saying,  "  What  new 
doctrine  is  this  thou  bringest  to  our  ears  ?  Let  the 
Poverty  thou  seekest  be  thine  and  thy  children's  after 
thee.  For  us  be  the  enjoyment  of  delight  and  the  over- 
flowing of  riches.  For  brief  and  full  of  labour  are  the 
days  of  our  life  and  in  the  end  of  man  what  refuge  ? 
Nothing  better  have  we  found  than  to  eat  and  drink  and 
be  merry  while  we  live."  And  the  temptation  of 
Avarice,  determining  to  take  unto  her  the  name 
Prudence  and  speaking  humble  wise,  might  have  been 
delivered  by  any  ecclesiastical  dignity  explaining  the 



"  twentieth  century  spirit  of  Francis "  in  Sabatier 

"  With  all  peace  and  quietness  you  can  work  your  own 
salvation  and  others,  if  once  your  storehouse  be  full.  .  .  . 
Will  God  not  accept  you  if  you  have  wherewith  to 
give  to  the  needy  and  are  mindful  of  the  poor?  .  .  . 
What  fear  for  you  in  the  contact  of  riches,  since  ye  hold 
them  as  nothing?  Evil  is  not  in  things  but  in  the  mind 
— for  God  saw  everything  that  He  had  made  and  behold 
it  was  very  good.  So  to  the  good  all  things  are  good. 
...  0  how  many  rich  men  spend  foolishly,  whereas, 
if  you  had  wealth  you  would  turn  it  to  good  use :  for 
your  purpose  is  holy  and  holy  your  desire." 

An  appealing  vision  was  needed  to  combat  a  tempta- 
tion so  subtle  and  plausible.  It  was  found  in  the  vision 
of  that  Lady  Poverty  as  Giotto  painted  her  who  "  alone 
clave  to  the  King  of  Glory  when  all  His  chosen  and 
loved  ones  left  Him  in  fear." 

"  I  am  not  rude  and  unlearned,  as  many  think;  but 
ancient  and  full  of  days  as  I  am,  I  know  the  nature  of 
things,  the  variety  of  creatures,  and  the  changes  of  the 
times.  I  have  known  the  restlessness  of  the  human 
heart,  learning  it  now  in  my  experience  of  the  world, 
now  by  subtlety  of  nature  and  now  by  gift  of  grace.  I 
was  in  the  Paradise  of  God  when  man  was  naked, 
wandering  through  all  that  spacious  realm  fearing 
nothing.  .  .  .  There  I  thought  to  remain  for  ever.  .  .  . 
Very  joyful  was  I,  sporting  with  him  all  the  day,  having 
nothing  of  my  own,  for  all  was  God's." 

Back  one  is  driven  to  the  old  haunting  question. 
Which  of  these  have  attained  the  real  secret  of  success — 
these  visionaries  of  Umbria  long  dead,  or  the  solid  live 
men  who  have  made  Chicago  ?  those  who  get,  or  those 



who  give  ?  Truly  if  they  were  right  then  the  modern 
world  is  altogether  wrong.  A  modern  novelist,  M.  de 
Coulevain,  has  attempted  to  represent  the  conflict  of 
these  ideals — the  product  of  modern  America  in  its  most 
cultured  and  effective  form  with  this  dream  world  of  the 
past.  His  heroine  visiting  Assisi  only  expresses  regret 
that  St.  Francis  and  St.  Claire  never  married.  The 
language  of  the  Saints  towards  the  real  things  of  the 
Eternal  world  is  uncouth  and  alien  to  her.  "There  will 
never  be  any  saints  in  America,"  she  confidently 

"No!  No!  I  don't  see  an  American  divesting  himself 
of  his  goods,  preaching  poverty  and  talking  to  doves. 
Instead  of  St.  Francis  we  shall,  may  he,  have  men  who 
will  lessen  poverty  and  make  the  world  a  more  com- 
fortable place." 

Wealth  accumulated  as  a  reality,  wealth  distributed  as 
an  ideal — here  is  the  watchword  of  the  spirit  of  the  age. 
It  may  seem  madness  to  cling  to  any  divergent  dream. 
Yet  a  certain  suspicion  still  refuses  to  be  stifled.  "  What 
shall  it  profit?"  appears  at  times  written  large  over  all 
the  monstrous  buildings  and  shrieking  factories.  For 
long  after  Chicago  and  Birmingham  and  all  the  products 
of  a  complacent  and  mechanical  age  have  become  the 
habitation  of  bats  and  owls,  men's  hearts  will  still  turn 
with  longing  towards  the  little  brown  cities  of  Italy, 
for  love  of  those  lives  whose  fragrance  clings  to  their 
crumbling  walls  and  appeals  across  the  silence  of  so 
many  dead  centuries. 



MR.  WELLS  and  Mr.  Bernard  Shaw  are  our 
two  living  prophets.  Both  have  entered  the 
profession,  like  the  shepherd  of  Tekoa,  by  unorthodox 
ways.  Both  interpret  the  function  of  prophecy  as  much 
in  the  diagnosis  of  the  present  as  in  the  forecast  of  the 
changes  of  the  future.  Both  follow  the  New  Testament 
in  preferring  the  wicked  to  the  mean.  Both  have  faith 
in  nothing  but  youth.  "Every  man  of  forty  is  a 
scoundrel  "  is  the  cheerful  aphorism  of  the  one  ;  and  the 
other  appeals  always  to  the  young  men  to  enrol  in  the 
crusade  for  the  New  Republic.  They  survey  the  squalid 
course  of  contemporary  life  in  England,  from  the  cottage 
to  the  castle,  with  a  kind  of  disgusted  pity.  They  find 
in  the  life  of  the  average  Briton,  his  complacency,  his 
dull  pretence  of  wisdom,  his  dull  thirst  for  gain,  the 
random  routine  of  his  unedifying  day,  something  which 
cries  to  heaven  as  an  offence.  Both  call  for  the  Super- 
man. But  in  the  case  of  the  one  the  call  remains  as  a 
pious  aspiration,  a  mere  summary  of  revolt  and  weari- 
ness. In  the  other  there  is  an  attempt  to  ransack  the 
springs  of  action,  to  drive  down  into  fundamental  things, 
to  examine  how,  if  at  all,  it  is  possible  by  breeding,  by 
education,  by  social  reconstruction  to  hasten  the  arrival 
of  the  Coming  Race. 



A  figure  famous  in  the  literature  of  Europe  has  also  in 
these  later  years  joined  the  prophetic  company.  M. 
Maeterlinck  has  progressed  steadily  from  the  method 
and  atmosphere  of  a  dead  past,  through  the  wisdom  and 
destiny  of  the  present,  to  the  proclamation  of  his  faith 
in  the  future.  Examination  of  three  writers  of  such 
varied  talent  and  temperament  should  throw  some  light 
upon  the  problem  of  the  days  to  come. 

Mr.  Bernard  Shaw,  in  his  latest  plays,  reveals  the 
attitude  of  revolt.  He  is  tired  of  the  tedious  inepti- 
tude, of  the  persistent  muddle  of  life.  It  is  the  man  of 
forty ;  disenchanted ;  the  mocking  spirit  confronting 
existence  with  a  grimace  and  a  gibe.  All  the  earlier 
illusions  have  vanished.  The  ideals  of  the  time  which 
he  would  term  the  "  eighteen-eighties  "  have  passed  like 
a  dream.  He  sees  life  in  its  grim  and  ugly  naked- 
ness, and  he  is  filled  with  a  hopeless  disgust  at  the 
prospect.  With  one  of  his  own  characters  he  has 
"swallowed  all  the  formulas,  even  that  of  Socialism," 
and  found  that  he  has  eaten  the  east  wind.  The 
work  of  dramatic  criticism  commenced  the  process  ;  the 
completion  was  attained  in  experience  as  a  Borough 
Councillor  of  St.  Pancras.  He  heaps  scorn  upon  pro- 
gress, sentiment,  all  effort  to  regenerate  the  world. 
The  foolishness  and  vapidness  of  the  upper  classes, 
the  "cricketers  to  whom  age  brings  golf  instead  of 
wisdom";  the  bourgeois  with  their  respectability  and 
their  unclean  reticence,  the  swinish  multitude  who  are 
content  to  have  it  so — all  are  equally  repulsive.  The 
method  of  the  Fabian  Society  and  the  method  of  the 
Barricade  are  both  "fundamentally  futile."  "Enough," 



he  cries,  "  of  this  goose  cackle  about  Progress  ;  man  as 
he  is  never  will  nor  can  add  a  cubit  to  his  stature  by  any 
of  its  quackeries,  political,  scientific,  educational,  religious, 
or  artistic."  There  is  merely  an  illusion  of  bustling 
activity  ;  no  real  advance.  "  I  do  not  know  whether  you 
have  any  illusions  left,"  he  writes  to  "My  dear  Walkley," 
"  on  the  subject  of  education,  progress,  and  so  forth.  I 
have  none."  The  world  to  him,  as,  he  gravely  announces, 
it  was  to  Shakespeare,  is  "  a  great  stage  of  fools,  on 
which  he  was  utterly  bewildered.  He  could  see  no  sort 
of  sense  in  living  in  it  at  all."  Vanitas  vanitatum,  omnia 
vanitas.  He  turns  round  and  roars  with  laughter  at  the 
absurdity  of  it  all ;  the  blindness  of  the  little  toiling  race 
of  men  to  the  stupidity  of  its  aspirations  and  the  fatuity 
of  its  efforts.  Like  Gilbert's  jester,  when  he  has  nothing 
else  to  laugh  at,  he  laughs  at  himself  till  he  aches  for  it. 
In  the  words  of  one  of  his  characters  in  "John  Bull's 
Other  Island,"  he  finds  no  jest  so  diverting  as  that  of 
telling  the  truth.  "  The  world  will  not  bear  thinking  of 
to  those  who  know  what  it  is"  is  the  burden  of  his  cry. 
Huxley  was  prepared  to  hail  a  "kindly  comet"  which 
would  sweep  the  whole  affair  away  as  a  kindly  consumma- 
tion. But  since,  in  Mr.  Bernard  Shaw's  pleasant  words, 
"  the  revival  of  tribal  soothsaying  and  idolatrous  rites, 
which  Huxley  called  Science  and  mistook  for  an  advance 
on  the  Pentateuch,"  Nietzsche,  with  the  gospel  of  the 
Superman,  has  shown  a  more  excellent  way.  Mr.  Shaw 
calls  for  the  elimination  of  the  Yahoo  and  the  breeding 
of  the  Superman. 

In  "  Man  and  Superman,"  and  "  John  Bull's 
Other  Island,"  he  has  expressed  in  his  own  un- 
equalled fashion  this  bedrock  scorn  of  life.  In  "  Man 
and  Superman"  the  old  illusions  and  the  new  fret  and 
strut  their  hour  upon  the  stage.  Here  are  Roderick 



Roebuck,  of  the  eighteen-sixties,  with  his  portraits  of 
John  Bright,  Herbert  Spencer,  and  Martineau,  and  his 
autotypes  of  allegories  of  Mr.  G.  F.  Watts ;  Mr.  John 
Tanner,  M.I.R.C.  (Member  of  the  Idle  Rich  Class), 
author  of  the  Revolutionists' Handbook ;  Anne,  a  "Vital 
Genius,"  representing  "  the  Life  Force " ;  Hector 
Malone,  an  Eastern  American,  distinguished  by  "  the 
engaging  freshness  of  his  personality  and  the  dum- 
foundering  staleness  of  his  culture."  The  "  new  man  " 
— the  "  man  of  the  future  " — is  represented  by  one  of 
Mr.  Wells' s  engineers,  Straker,  the  chauffeur,  educated 
at  a  Board  School  and  a  Polytechnic,  of  a  brilliant 
and  engaging  vulgarity.  Behind  this  company  is  the 
machinery  which  pulls  the  strings  and  decides  the 
issue.  In  a  dialogue  between  the  Devil,  Mozart's 
original  Don  Juan,  Anne,  and  the  statue  of  her  father, 
a  temporary  visitant  from  heaven,  is  revealed  the  gospel 
of  Schopenhauer,  and  Nietzsche,  and  Shaw. 

Briefly,  this  is  the  futility  of  all  things  except  the 
blind  but  persistent  purposes  of  Nature  which  subtly 
checkmate  the  plans  of  the  individual  for  happiness  or 
suicide,  and  direct  all  things  towards  the  perpetuation 
of  the  race  and  the  coming  of  the  Superman.  The  Devil 
who  had  left  heaven  because  he  was  bored  represents 
the  disillusioned  spirit.  "  In  the  arts  of  life,"  he  says, 
"  man  invents  nothing ;  but  in  the  arts  of  death  he 
outdoes  Nature  herself,  and  produces  by  chemistry  and 
machinery  all  the  slaughter  of  plague,  pestilence,  and 
famine."  "  The  power  that  governs  the  earth  is  not 
the  power  of  Life,  but  of  Death."  Each  generation 
thinks  the  world  is  progressing  because  it  is  always 
moving.  "  Where  you  now  see  reform,  progress,  fulfil- 
ment of  upward  tendency,  continual  ascent  by  Man  on 
the  stepping-stones  of  his  dead  self  to  higher  things, 

193  0 


you  will  see  nothing  but  an  infinite  comedy  ol 

To  this  Don  Juan  opposes  his  exaltation  of  Life, 
"the  force  that  ever  strives  to  attain  greater  power  of 
contemplating  itself."  Against  the  citizen  with  his 
abject  respectabilities  and  negations  he  uplifts  the 
fanatic.  He  sings  "  Not  arms  and  the  hero,  but  the 
philosophic  man."  "  Of  all  other  sorts  of  men  I 
declare  myself  tired.  They  are  tedious  failures."  He 
sees  modern  pleasure-loving  society  dancing  gaily  to 
sterility.  But  he  is  confident  in  the  victory  of  the  Life 
Force,  when  "  the  plain-spoken  marriage  services  of  the 
Church  will  no  longer  be  abbreviated,  and  half-suppressed 
as  indelicate."  With  the  expunging  of  the  "unbear- 
able frivolities"  of  the  "romantic  vo wings  and  pledg- 
ings  and  until-death-do-us-partings,"  the  real  purpose 
of  marriage  will  be  honoured  and  accepted.  The  Devil 
gloomily  promises  a  future  of  disillusionment  and 
credulity.  The  Life  Force  will  thrust  mankind  "  into 
religion,  where  you  will  sprinkle  water  on  babies  to 
save  their  souls  from  me ;  then  it  will  drive  you  from 
religion  into  science,  where  you  will  snatch  the  babies 
from  the  water  sprinkling,  and  inoculate  them  with 
disease  to  save  them  from  catching  it  acciden- 
tally" ;  then  to  politics,  and  other  dusty  and  lamentable 
things.  But  Don  Juan  is  persistent,  and  while  the 
Devil  deplores  his  failure  with  the  Life  worshippers, 
departs  to  heaven,  of  which  a  characteristic  picture  is 
given : — 

"  At  every  one  of  these  concerts  in  England  you  will 
find  rows  of  weary  people  who  are  there  not  because 
they  really  like  classical  music,  but  because  they  think 
they  ought  to  like  it.  Well,  there  is  the  same  thing  in 
heaven.  A  number  of  people  sit  there  in  glory  not 



because  they  are  happy,  but  because  they  think  they 
owe  it  to  their  position  to  be  in  [heaven.  They  are 
almost  all  English." 

The  scene  ends  upon  the  earthly  stage.  Anne,  the 
Vital  Genius,  stalks  and  captures  her  prey.  Tanner 
recognises  that  "  the  trap  was  laid  from  the  beginning 
— by  the  Life  Force,"  and  yields  while  shouting  his 
protests,  and  protesting  that  he  would  prefer  to  be 
hanged.  He  is  gravely  congratulated  by  the  leader  of 
the  brigands.  "  Sir,"  says  Madoza,  "  there  are  two 
tragedies  in  life.  One  is  not  to  get  your  heart's  desire. 
The  other  is  to  get  it.  Mine  and  yours,  sir."  And 
the  curtain  falls  upon  "  universal  laughter." 

"Violet  (with  intense  conviction):  You  are  a  brute, 

"  Ann  (looking  at  him  with  fond  pride  and  caressing 
his  arm)  :  Never  mind  her,  dear.  Go  on  talking. 

"Tanner:  Talking! 

"  Universal  laughter." 

"  Universal  laughter "  is  also  the  note  of  "  John 
Boll's  Other  Island,"  and  laughter  that  has  no  mirth 
in  it,  the  only  alternative  to  tears.  The  "  anglicised 
Irishman"  substitutes  science  for  sentiment,  and  daily 
loathes  himself  more  profoundly.  The  "  Gladstonised 
Englishman "  attains  his  heart's  desire  without  ever 
apprehending  the  emptiness  and  foolishness  of  the 
figure  he  cuts  in  the  sight  of  God.  Heaven  is 
once  more  pictured  as  a  place  of  boredom  and  blue 
satin,  mainly  peopled  by  the  English.  Imagination 
curses  one  man,  lack  of  it  another.  The  peasant, 
freed,  sets  himself  to  squeeze  the  labourer.  All  are 
bought  by  flattery,  which  they  know  to  be  flattery,  and 
yet  accept  joyfully.  The  dreamer  who  feels  pity  for  all 
life  is  universally  proclaimed  as  a  madman.  The  world 



worshipping  efficiency  is  announced  as  creating  effi- 
ciently the  machinery  of  labour  and  the  machinery  of 
pleasure,  all  turning  to  dust.  Hotels,  golf-links,  land- 
purchase,  membership  of  Parliament,  ideals,  desires, 
dreams — this  is  the  end  of  every  man's  desire.  The 
eye  is  not  satisfied  with  seeing,  nor  the  ear  filled  with 
hearing.  The  thing  that  hath  been,  it  is  that  which 
shall  be,  and  there  is  no  new  thing  under  the  sun. 
That  which  is  crooked  cannot  be  made  straight,  and 
that  which  is  wanting  cannot  be  numbered.  "  I  have 
seen  all  the  works  that  are  done  under  the  sun,  and 
behold  all  is  vanity  and  vexation  of  spirit." 

Mr.  Bernard  Shaw  sees  the  world  a  den  of  dangerous 
animals,  amongst  whom  our  few  accidental  supermen 
must  live  as  precariously  as  tamers  do,  "  taking  the 
humour  of  their  situation  and  the  dignity  of  their 
superiority  as  a  set-off  to  the  horror  of  the  one  and  the 
loneliness  of  the  other."  His  cry  for  the  Superman  is 
little  more  than  the  cutting  of  a  stick  with  which  to 
emphasise  the  ultimate  impossibility  of  the  finite  life  of 
man.  Amidst  his  world  of  supermen,  undoubtedly  one 
rebel  against  the  common  superiority  would  be  Mr. 
Bernard  Shaw,  convicted  of  a  horror  and  loneliness  all 
the  more  real  because  there  would  be  less  obvious 
material  for  his  pleasant  and  bitter  discontents. 


The  stones  of  Mr.  Wells  have  thinly  veiled,  under 
the  guise  of  scientific  romance,  an  impeachment  of  pre- 
sent things.  In  the  history  of  the  "  Sleeper  "  he  shows 
in  the  future  all  the  forces  of  the  present  ten  times 
multiplied — more  noise,  more  confusion,  more  wealth, 
more  poverty,  more  separation  from  nature,  more  blind- 



ness  to  aught  but  material  things.  Society  has  again 
passed  into  the  condition  of  the  later  days  of  Rome, 
when,  having  attained  an  end  and  with  nothing  to 
anticipate,  the  springs  of  action  have  been  choked 
with  a  world  weariness.  Later,  however,  in  "Anticipa- 
tions," and  "  Mankind  in  the  Making,"  and  a  "  New 
Utopia,"  he  has  attempted  a  saner  estimate  of  actual 
possibilities.  The  forces  of  life  are  estimated,  as  well 
as  the  forces  of  death  :  the  revolt  from  the  present  and 
its  unclean  poverty  and  routine,  the  mess  that  man  is 
making  of  life,  becomes  itself  a  guarantee  that  effort 
will  be  directed  towards  a  better  existence  for  our 
children's  children. 

Mr.  Wells  is  a  master  of  the  suggestive  phrase  which 
suddenly  opens  great  issues.  He  pictures  the  student 
of  divinity  to-day  coming  "  into  a  world  futt  of  the 
ironical  silences  that  follow  great  controversies."  There 
is  a  whole  universe  in  that  single  phrase.  "  To  state 
these  questions,"  he  says  of  the  Republican  ideal,  "is 
like  opening  the  door  of  a  room  that  has  long  been 
locked  and  deserted.  One  has  a  lonely  feeling."  Many 
a  man  with  a  youthful  dream  of  noble  things  "  peers 
to-day  from  between  preposterous  lawn  sleeves  or  under 
a  tilted  coronet,  sucked  as  dry  of  his  essential  honour 
as  a  spider  sucks  a  fly."  In  his  discussion  of  the  sex 
question — a  sane  and  clean  discussion  of  one  of  the 
most  baffling  of  human  problems — he  sees  common 
human  nature  with  a  really  dreadful  insight.  "I  had 
purported  to  call  this  paper  '  Sex  and  the  Imagination,' " 
he  says,  "  and  then  I  had  a  sudden  vision  of  the  thing 
that  happens.  The  vision  presented  a  casual  reader 
seated  in  a  library  turning  over  books  and  magazines,  and 
casting  much  excellent  wisdom  aside,  and  then  suddenly, 
as  it  were,  waking  up  at  that  title,  arrested,  displaying  a 



furtive  alertness,  reading,  flushed  and  eager,  nosing 
through  the  article." 

By  such  unflinching  observation  of  the  facts  of  the 
world  around  him  does  Mr.  Wells  justify  his  claim  to 
preach  the  gospel  of  the  New  Republic — of  the  Super- 

"  Call  ye  that  a  Society,"  cried  Carlyle  seventy  years 
ago,  "  where  there  is  no  longer  any  Social  Idea  extant  ?  " 
"  One  writes  'our  present  civilisation,'  "  re-echoes  Mr. 
Wells  to-day,  "  and  of  previous  civilisations,  but, 
indeed,  no  civilisations  have  yet  really  come  into 
existence."  With  a  kind  of  smooth  and  polished 
bitterness,  Mr.  Wells  heaps  up  his  indictment  of 
the  men  of  his  time.  It  is  all  a  little  cruel ;  too 
detached  to  be  entirely  pleasant :  the  author  surveys 
the  scrambling  horde  as  the  observer  surveys  the  ant- 
heap  or  the  locust  crowd  with  a  cold  resentment  and 
contempt.  He  has  known  something  of  the  foulness  of 
the  struggle.  He  has  been  near  to  be  himself  suffocated 
in  the  swarm.  He  has  escaped  with  no  illusions  con- 
cerning the  heroism  and  loveliness  of  the  average  citizen 
of  the  Imperial  race.  All  his  onslaught  could  be  summed 
up  in  a  single  challenge.  Stand  in  the  street  of  any 
modern  English  city  and  watch  the  stream  drift  by  of 
shuffling,  shabby  bodies,  of  dissatisfied  or  vacuous 
minds.  Or  contrast  in  thought  the  ox-like  seriousness 
over  trivial  things,  the  compromise  and  gross  living  of 
the  prosperous  middle-class  citizen  and  his  wife,  with 
the  vision  of  their  radiant  childhood.  Mr.  Lowes 
Dickinson  has  summed  up  his  fundamental  dissatis- 
faction with  life  in  a  picture  of  the  active  and  graceful 
lambs  transmuted  by  time  into  the  stolid  and  silly 
sheep.  It  is  to-day's  progress  of  mankind.  And  the 
play  of  malign  forces  upon  these  beautiful  children, 



with  their  possibilities  of  rational  and  refined  existence, 
points  all  the  sombre  warnings  of  the  message  of  this 
modern  prophet. 

His  purpose  is  to  seek  for  remedy.  He  has  been 
compelled  to  rule  out,  though  with  reluctance,  a  method 
that  would  appear  easy  and  pleasant.  Why  cannot  we 
artificially  "  breed  "  the  Superman  as  we  breed  strong 
horses  or  fat  cattle  ?  Because,  in  part,  of  our  ignorance 
of  the  subtle  laws  of  inheritance  and  the  strange  sports 
and  variations  it  produces.  Because,  again,  our  Super- 
men will  be  different  the  one  from  the  other,  will  em- 
brace a  combination  of  qualities,  so  that  even  in  the 
case  of  mere  superficial  physical  beauty  it  is  quite  im- 
possible to  choose  a  particular  pair  to  produce  a  particular 
type  in  the  second  generation.  And,  above  all,  because 
it  is  the  abnormal  and  the  variation  which  are  most 
useful  to  mankind :  the  genius  trembling  on  the  border 
of  insanity,  often  flowering  on  a  tainted  stock ;  the  fiery 
mind  of  a  Stevenson  or  a  Henley  pent  up  in  a  diseased 
or  battered  body  ;  the  eccentric  distortion  of  the  saint  or 
the  hero.  You  can  breed  out,  but  you  cannot  breed  in. 
You  could  conceivably  eliminate  all  lopsided  personality 
and  produce  a  gross  acreage  of  decent  citizen.  But  the 
result  would  be  a  kind  of  a  nightmare  of  the  mediocre, 
a  universal  Brixton. 

At  the  conclusion  of  the  record  of  Mr.  Lewisham's 
somewhat  squalid  life  history,  his  creator  discloses  a 
sudden  illumination  almost  in  the  form  of  a  revelation. 
The  coming  of  the  Child,  with  all  its  possibilities, 
reaching  down  to  endless  generations,  takes  this  shabby 
little  clerk  from  the  cramped  surroundings  of  his 
personal  life,  and  gives  him  somehow  a  pathetic  but 
real  dignity  as  the  steward  of  the  heritage  of  all  the 
future.  In  his  later  social  appeals  Mr.  Wells  attempts 



to  awaken  in  his  readers  some  thrill  of  the  same 
emotion.  In  a  whimsical  picture  he  presents  "  all  our 
statesmen,  our  philanthropists,  our  public  men,  gathered 
into  one  great  hall,"  and  regarding  perplexedly  "a  huge 
spout  that  no  man  can  stop,"  discharging  "  abahy  every 
eight  seconds."  "  Our  success  or  failure  with  that 
unending  stream  of  babies  is  the  measure  of  our 
civilisation."  As  in  the  dream  of  a  great  novelist,  he 
sees  the  might  have  been,  the  fair  vision  of  an  ideal 
of  individual  life  which  will  never  be  realised,  con- 
trasted with  the  mean  and  pitiful  reality ;  and  with 
something  of  the  fervour  of  a  Hebrew  prophet,  he 
confronts  the  men  of  his  time  with  the  inquiry,  Why 
these  things  should  be  ? 

"  With  a  weak  and  wailing  outcry,  that  stirs  the 
heart,  the  creature  comes  protesting  into  the  world." 
Already  it  is  handicapped  by  ancestral  sins  and  scars  of 
body  and  mind.  But  from  the  first  we  increase  that 
handicap,  according  to  Mr.  Wells,  with  our  selfishness, 
our  clumsiness,  and  our  ignorance.  First  we  slay  an 
enormous  proportion  by  preventable  squalor  and  disease. 
The  statistics  of  infant  mortality  reveal  a  holocaust 
of  children,  a  "  perennial  massacre  of  the  innocents  " — 
161  children  out  of  1,000  in  Lancashire — which  is  alone 
evidence  of  the  survival  of  barbaric  conditions.  In  one 
of  the  few  passages  in  which  the  author  has  allowed 
his  feeling  to  emerge  from  beneath  the  polished  and 
scornful  invective  of  his  denunciation,  Mr.  Wells 
arraigns  society  in  the  name  of  these  murdered  children : 
"  stiff  little  life-soiled  sacrifices  to  the  spirit  of  disorder 
against  which  it  is  man's  pre-eminent  duty  to  battle." 
Our  civilisation  has  neither  the  courage  to  kill  them 
outright,  painlessly,  nor  the  heart  to  give  them  what 
they  need. 



"  There  has  been  all  the  pain  in  their  lives,  there  has 
been  the  radiated  pain  of  their  misery,  there  has  been 
the  waste  of  their  grudged  and  insufficient  food,  and  all 
the  pain  and  labour  of  their  mothers,  and  all  the 
world  is  sadder  for  them  because  they  have  lived  in 

But  those  who  have  run  the  gauntlet  of  this  hazardous 
infancy  are  in  hardly  a  better  plight.  Mr.  Wells  shows 
by  tables  and  statistics  the  far  falling  away,  which  is 
the  destiny  of  the  children  of  the  poor,  from  any 
reasonable  standard  of  physical  development  The  con- 
sequences endure — the  fruit  of  bad  feeding,  mothers 
"  battered  and  exhausted  with  child-bearing ;  insanitary, 
ugly,  inconvenient  homes ;  absence  of  fresh  air  and  sun- 
light." These  figures  "  serve  to  suggest,  but  they  do 
not  serve  to  gauge,  the  far  graver  and  sadder  loss,  the 
invisible  and  immeasurable  loss  through  mental  and 
moral  qualities  undeveloped,  through  activities  warped 
and  crippled  and  vitality  and  courage  lowered." 

But  the  child  grows ;  reason  awakens  the  imitative 
faculties,  the  beginnings  of  will.  In  Mr.  Wells's  in- 
dictment of  the  cunning  grown  folk  everywhere  these 
are  waiting  for  him :  with  bludgeons  and  clubs,  with 
pitfalls  dug  for  his  unwary  feet,  with  the  grosser 
cruelty  of  their  kindness.  We  begin  by  using  the 
child  as  a  plaything  for  ourselves :  giving  him  foolish 
toys  that  he  may  be  amused,  talking  "baby  language  " 
to  him  because  it  causes  us  vague  satisfaction.  As  he 
grows  older,  we  infect  him  with  our  mean  compromises 
and  shabby  virtues.  We  rear  him  in  the  terrible  sham 
genteel  homes  of  the  middle  classes,  which  the  author 
describes  with  a  kind  of  cold  fury.  "  A  raging  father, 
a  scared,  deceitful  mother,  vulgarly  acting,  vulgarly 
thinking  friends,  all  leave  an  almost  indelible  impress." 



Then  comes  education.  Of  all  Mr.  Wells's  hatreds  the 
dreary  farce  we  term  middle-class  education  perhaps 
occupies  the  supreme  position.  With  no  thought-out 
plan,  with  a  thousand  inherited  shams  and  inconsis- 
tencies, with  an  unctuous  boast  of  moral  influence 
and  the  teaching  of  a  religion  which  we  do  not  our- 
selves believe,  we  thrust  the  developing  soul  through 
the  period  of  awakening  passion.  Some  collapse  and 
go  under.  Some  hold  on  and  develop  into  the  kind  of 
creatures  of  compromise  which  make  up  the  horde 
of  average  men  and  women.  It  is  all  wrong — all 
fundamentally  wrong.  The  child,  with  all  its  infinite 
possibilities,  has  become  even  as  one  of  us:  a  "suburban 
white  nigger,"  with  a  thousand  a  year  and  the  "  conceit 
of  Imperial  destinies  "  ;  or  full  of  "  the  haughty  in- 
capacity, the  mean  pride,  the  parasitic  lordliness  of  the 
just-independent,  well-connected  English." 

It  is  a  sombre  picture  of  the  raw  disorder  and  mean- 
ness of  average  English  life.  The  kind  of  picture  when 
painted  half  a  century  ago  by  John  Ruskin  or  Matthew 
Arnold,  left  English  readers  speechless  with  furious 
amazement.  The  men  of  to-day,  with  a  less  good 
conceit  of  themselves,  will  possibly  receive  it  with  a 
gloomy  acquiescence.  By  the  side  of  the  "  clean  and 
beautiful  child "  Mr.  Wells  places  in  cruel  contrast 
"  the  mean  and  graceless  creature  of  our  modern  life, 
his  ill-made  clothes ;  his  clumsy,  half-fearful,  half- 
brutal  bearing ;  his  coarse,  defective  speech ;  his  dreary, 
unintelligent  work;  his  shabby,  impossible,  bathless, 
artless  home."  The  author  lifts  the  curtain  for  a 
moment  on  some  phase  of  this  creature's  typical 
activity,  "enjoying  himself"  on  a  Bank  Holiday,  or 
"rejoicing,  peacock  feather  in  hand,  hat  askew,"  on 
"the  defeat  of  a  numerically  inferior  enemy."  The 



conversion  of  the  one  into  the  other  he  upholds  as  the 
persistent  tragedy  of  modern  life. 

No  discriminating  observer  can  contemplate  the 
particular  type  of  civilisation,  or  the  lack  of  it,  which  is 
developing  in  Anglo-Saxon  communities  without  pro- 
found disquietude.  "  He  gave  them  their  heart's 
desire,  and  sent  leanness  withal  into  their  souls," 
might  be  written  over  all  the  vast  material  success  and 
the  fundamental  spiritual  poverty  of  the  dominant  race. 
Mr.  Wells,  passing  to  his  remedy  for  these  discontents, 
has  found  a  less  eager  following.  The  astonishment 
and  rather  poor  humour  which  have  been  evoked  by  the 
sweeping  nature  of  his  suggestions  may  indeed  be  put 
aside.  Such  criticism  is  merely  the  result  of  a  lack  of 
imaginative  foresight.  No  social  system  could  ever  be 
more  entirely  incredible  than  the  social  system  of  the 
present  day,  if  explained  on  paper  to  the  denizens  of 
another  world.  No  possible  changes  in  the  immediate 
future  could  ever  be  more  revolutionary  and  profound 
than  have  been  the  changes  of  the  immediate  past. 
A  Government,  by  an  adapted  jury  system,  replacing 
the  universal  democracy ;  the  State  subsidy  to  selected 
authors  and  critics ;  the  development  of  the  "  New 
Republic  "  ;  the  deliberate  attack  on  the  problem  of 
poverty  and  low-grade  life  ;  the  large  reorganisations  of 
education — all  these  which,  to  the  dull  mind,  appear 
but  fantastic  dreams,  will  certainly  be  paralleled  by 
equally  disturbing  changes  before  the  century  has 

It  is  rather  in  his  fundamental  theory  of  life  and  of 
human  well-being  that  one  would  join  issue  with  this 
acute  critic.  He  believes,  as  ardently  as  the  newer 
Fabians,  in  efficiency,  that  latest  of  the  cries  which 
Mr.  Shaw  covers  with  the  violence  of  his  scorn.  He 



has  a  really  remarkable  faith  in  the  power  of  revised 
organisation  and  government  to  modify  the  life  of  man. 
Strangely  enough  for  such  a  shrewd  observer  of  the 
tragic  comedy  of  human  affairs,  he  appears  still  to 
believe  that  the  intellect,  the  human  reason,  counts  for 
much  in  human  progress  ;  that  men  may  be  reasoned 
into  sanity,  cleanliness,  order,  and  an  ardour  for  all 
excellent  things.  Whole  pages  of  his  books  burn 
with  the  same  generous  fire  as  that  possessed  by  the 
eighteenth-century  French  writers,  or  the  English  re- 
formers of  the  early  Victorian  school.  The  vast  catas- 
trophe of  the  revolution  in  the  one  case,  the  prolonged 
sunset  of  hope  deferred  in  the  other,  emphasised  a 
lesson  which  humanity  is  always  being  compelled  to 
re-learn :  that  as  the  razor  to  the  granite  rocks  or  the 
mooring  thread  of  silk  to  the  vessel,  so  is  human  intel- 
lect and  reason  confronting  "  those  two  giants,  the 
passion  and  the  pride  of  man." 

This  pleasant  intellectual  enthusiasm  extends  even  to 
free  libraries,  towards  which  Mr.  Wells  exhibits  a 
devotion  shared,  one  would  think,  by  no  one  but  the 
admirable  Mr.  Carnegie.  "  Give  books,"  he  cries  with 
fervour ;  diffuse  useful  knowledge ;  increase  "  the 
amount  of  intellectual  activity  in  the  State."  "Thought 
is  the  life  of  a  community."  "  For  three  thousand 
years  and  more  the  book  has  become  more  and  more 
the  evident  salvation  of  man." 

He  has  failed  to  realise  the  practical  difficulties  of 
amelioration  and  reform  when  the  people,  as  a  whole, 
are  content  to  have  things  otherwise.  He  demands,  for 
example,  a  "  minimum  standard  of  soundness  and  sani- 
tation "  for  houses  and  "  legislation  against  overcrowd- 
ing." We  have  such  minimum  standard  at  present, 
and  such  legislation  ;  but  the  law  is  a  dead  letter.  It 



is  no  one's  interest  to  put  it  into  force :  it  lies  undis- 
turbed on  dusty  shelves.  He  assails  again  our  present 
system  of  treating  the  children  of  vicious  and  drunken 
parents :  using  "  the  quivering,  damaged  victim  "  as  our 
instrument  for  punishment  of  the  parent.  He  would 
take  the  child  away  to  an  institution  (though,  as  he 
wisely  recognises  in  another  place,  these  "  institu- 
tions "  are  hut  "  aspects  of  failure  "),  and  dehit  the  cost 
on  the  parent.  The  system  is  at  present  at  work  in  the 
industrial  schools.  There  is  a  continuous  pressure 
on  the  part  of  undesirable  parents  to  get  rid  of  their 
children.  But,  as  every  poor-law  guardian  knows,  the 
parent  very  shortly  skips  off  and  is  lost  in  the  crowd  of 
the  city,  leaving  the  State  to  rear  its  ill-fated  offspring. 
Nothing  hut  a  German  system  of  classification  and 
registration  could  overcome  this  difficulty.  But,  in 
fact,  as  Mr.  Wells  recognises  in  his  revised  scheme 
of  Government  by  Juries,  we  are  faced,  not  as  the 
prejudiced  assert,  with  a  breakdown  in  Democratic 
Government,  but  with  a  breakdown  in  all  Government. 
You  call  for  a  Dictator,  you  organise  a  central  Execu- 
tive, and  you  get — the  English  War  Office.  You 
delegate  authority  and  create  local  interest,  and  the 
result  is — the  London  Borough  Council.  It  is  a  kind 
of  deliquescence  of  character  and  responsibility.  "  The 
National  energy  is  falling  away."  "  Our  workmen  take 
no  pride  in  their  work  any  longer ;  they  shirk  toil  and 
gamble.  And,  what  is  worse,  the  master  takes  no  pride 
in  his  work  ;  he,  too,  shirks  toil  and  gambles."  In  his 
onslaught  upon  philanthropic  institutions  Mr.  Wells 
indicates  the  truth.  "  They  do  not  work  "  is  his  severe 
but  just  summary.  "  In  cold  fact  it  is  impossible  to  get 
enough  capable  and  devoted  people  to  do  the  work." 
"Able,  courageous,  vigorous  people  are  rare,  and  the 



world  urges  a  thousand  better  employments  upon  them." 
It  is  the  creation  of  "able,  courageous,  vigorous  people" 
which  is  the  crying  need  of  the  modern  world  ;  with  sim- 
plicity, tenacity,  clean  minds,  and,  above  all,  a  personal 
responsibility  and  devotion  for  the  gifts  of  body  and 

There  is  no  indication  of  the  method  by  which  such 
character  can  be  obtained,  only  a  message  of  desolation 
at  its  loss. 

To  all  the  modern  claim  for  character  building  and  a 
moral  training,  Mr.  Wells  is  frankly  scornful.  Religion 
is  kept  out  of  his  survey,  but  there  are  enough  occasional 
asides  to  show  the  direction  of  his  thought  and  his  con- 
tempt for  the  claims  of  "  religious  "  instruction.  "  In 
spite  of  a  ceremonial  adhesion  to  the  religion  of  his 
fathers,"  the  author  says  of  the  modern  man,  "  you  will 
find  nothing  but  a  profound  agnosticism.  He  has  not 
even  the  faith  to  disbelieve."  Till  some  such  internal 
change  or  faith  has  come  to  him,  and  the  society  in 
which  he  moves,  it  is  difficult  to  see  how  he  can  be 
saved.  All  manipulations  of  machinery  will  leave  the 
heart  cheerless  and  cold. 

Mr.  Wells's  books  are  crowded  with  excellent  sug- 
gestions of  social  reorganisation,  the  clearing  away  of 
lumber  and  refuse,  the  oiling  and  cleaning  and  polishing 
of  crank  and  wheel.  But  at  bottom  Mr.  Wells  is 
appealing  to  a  spirit  behind  the  material  change. 
With  the  great  eighteenth-century  dreamers,  he  desires 
a  fresh  start.  With  Carlyle  and  all  the  school  of  the 
prophets,  he  demands  a  new  heart ;  in  the  old  theological 
language,  a  mind  set  on  righteousness,  a  will  directed 
toward  harmony  with  the  will  of  God.  He  appeals 
to  the  young  men.  "  After  thirty  there  are  few 
conversions  and  fewer  fine  beginnings ;  men  and  women 



go  on  in  the  path  they  have  marked  out  for  themselves." 
What  man  over  thirty — so  rings  his  challenge — dares 
hope  for  the  Republic  before  he  die  ?  or  for  an  infantile 
death-rate  under  ninety  in  the  thousand,  with  all  the 
conquered  desolation  that  such  a  change  would  mean? 
or  "for  the  deliverance  of  all  of  our  blood  and  speech 
from  those  fouler  things  than  chattel  slavery,  child  and 
adolescent  labour  "  ?  With  the  young  men  and  women 
lies  all  the  hope  of  the  future.  A  refusal  to  acquiesce 
may  be  in  them  a  generous  ardour  for  reform.  Clean 
thought  and  a  vision  of  better  things  may  lead  forward 
to  a  newer  day.  With  this  new  spirit,  which  feels 
something  of  the  sorrows  of  the  world  and  its  confusion 
alike  as  a  reproach  and  a  call  to  action,  the  fulfilment  of 
the  coming  years  may  be  "  better  than  all  our  dreams." 


In  sharp  contrast  to  the  bitter  humours  of  the  one 
and  the  energy  of  the  other  comes  the  serene  out- 
look of  the  third  of  the  prophets.  M.  Maeterlinck 
also  is  watching  the  night  for  the  signs  of  the  dawn. 
His  attitude  also  is  one  of  acceptance  of  modern  pro- 
gress, and  its  transfiguration.  He  finds  good  in  the 
world  of  the  present.  He  will  have  nothing  to  say 
to  the  cry  of  disenchantment.  He  believes  this  pre- 
sent itself  may  be  charged  with  significance  and  high 
ardour,  adequate  to  all  the  demands  of  the  human 
soul.  With  a  note  of  triumph  he  turns  from  the 
long  courses  of  human  history,  already  hurried  into 
a  vanished  past,  to  confront  with  eagerness  and  long- 
ing the  flower  and  consummation  of  man's  effort  in  a  life 
more  desirable  than  man  has  ever  known. 

Much  of  his  writing  upon  modern  things  is  the  work 


of  fancy — fancy  not  simple,  but  carefully  elaborated — 
rather  than  of  imagination.  Efforts  to  personify  the 
motor-car,  the  "wonderful  beast,"  "the  dreadful  hippo- 
griff,"  with  description  of  its  soul,  its  "terrible  complex 
heart,"  "  the  mighty  viscera,"  appear  artificial  and 
overstrained.  His  summaries  of  the  flowers,  the 
begonia,  "pretty  but  insolent,  and  a  little  artificial"; 
the  double  geranium,  "  indefatigable  and  extraordinarily 
courageous "  ;  the  nasturtium  which  "  screams  like  a 
parrakeet  climbing  up  the  bars  of  its  cage  "  are  more 
quaint  than  illuminating.  The  reader  recognises  that 
the  author  feels  compelled  to  make  a  certain  effect,  and 
the  results  attained  are  forced  rather  than  spontaneous. 
But  behind  it  all  is  that  philosophy  of  practical  life  and 
outlook  upon  human  affairs  which  bring  M.  Maeterlinck's 
writings  as  a  real  inspiration  to  many  perplexed  minds. 
He  sees  a  universe  from  which  the  old  lights  have  fallen. 
The  schemes  of  salvation,  the  control  of  benignant 
spirits,  the  manifest  presence  of  a  Deity  concerned  with 
human  welfare,  having  suddenly  vanished  from  man's 
outward  survey.  He  sweeps  the  heavens  with  his 
telescopes,  and  finds  no  God.  He  is  driven  to  take  up 
the  business  of  life  with  no  pillar  of  cloud  by  day  or 
pillar  of  fire  by  night  to  guide  him  on  his  journey. 
"  We  are  emerging  (to  speak  only  of  the  last  three  or 
four  centuries  of  our  present  civilisation),"  he  says — 
"we  are  emerging  from  the  great  religious  period." 
The  background,  the  "  somewhat  gloomy  and  threaten- 
ing background,"  which  "  gave  a  uniform  colour  to  the 
atmosphere  and  the  landscape,"  is  to-day  "  disappearing 
in  tatters."  And  the  space — the  abode  of  our  ignor- 
ance, "which  after  the  disappearance  of  the  religious 
ideas,  had  appeared  frightfully  empty,  is  gradually 
becoming  peopled  with  vague  but  enormous  figures." 



The  "Void,"  the  "Infinite,"  the  blind  and  meaningless 
schemata  of  the  sciences  which  have  assumed  the 
thrones  of  the  elder  gods,  continue  to  put  unanswerable 
questions  to  the  bewildered  minds  of  men.  They  put 
questions  to  us  "  and  we  stammer  as  best  we  may." 
But  the  "  active  idea  which  we  conceive  of  the  riddle 
in  the  midst  of  which  we  have  our  being  "  is  opening 
gradually  a  "  luminous  and  boundless  perspective " 
which  is  destined  to  transfigure  all  man's  activities 
and  dreams. 

"  We  were,  it  might  be  said,  like  blind  men  who 
should  imagine  the  outer  world  from  inside  a  shut 
room.  Now,  we  are  those  same  blind  men  whom  an 
ever-silent  guide  leads  by  turns  into  the  forest,  across 
the  plain,  on  the  mountain,  and  beside  the  sea.  Their 
eyes  have  not  yet  opened ;  but  their  shaking  and  eager 
hands  are  able  to  feel  the  trees,  to  rumple  the  spikes  of 
corn,  to  gather  a  flower  or  a  fruit,  to  marvel  at  the  ridge 
of  a  rock,  or  to  mingle  with  the  cool  waves,  while  their 
ears  learn  to  distinguish,  without  needing  to  understand, 
the  thousand  real  songs  of  the  sun  and  the  shade,  the 
wind  and  the  rain,  the  leaves  and  the  waters." 

On  the  one  hand  there  is  this  vision  of  hope  and  the 
enlargement  of  the  human  mind  which  comes  from  the 
apprehension  of  infinite  horizons.  "  Though  we  no 
longer  count,  the  humanity  of  which  we  form  a  part 
is  acquiring  the  importance  of  which  we  are  being 
stripped."  The  greatest  dangers  that  awaited  this 
humanity  at  its  hazardous  infancy  have  now  been  over- 
passed. "  The  instability  of  the  seas  and  the  uprising 
of  the  central  fire  "  are  to-day  infinitely  less  to  be 
feared.  We  may  be  permitted  to  believe  that  the  peril 
of  "  collision  with  a  stray  star  "  may  be  averted  for  "  the 
few  centuries  of  respite  necessary  for  us  to  learn  how  to 

209  p 


ward  it  off "  :  till  we  have  learnt  to  "  lay  hold  of  that 
essential  secret  of  the  worlds  which  for  the  time  being 
and  to  soothe  our  ignorance  (even  as  we  soothe  a  child 
and  lull  it  to  sleep  by  repeating  meaningless  and 
monotonous  words)  we  have  called  the  law  of  gravita- 
tion." We  feel,  therefore,  in  this  age  the  greatness  of 
expectation — looking  towards  a  revealing  glory.  "  We 
are  in  the  magnificent  state  in  which  Michaelangelo 
painted  the  prophets  and  the  just  men  of  the  Old 
Testament  on  that  prodigious  ceiling  of  the  Sistine 
Chapel :  we  are  living  in  expectation,  and  perhaps  in 
the  last  moment  of  expectation." 

"  Expectation,  in  fact,  has  degrees  which  begin  with 
a  sort  of  vague  resignation,  and  which  do  not  yet  hope 
for  the  thrill  aroused  by  the  nearest  movements  of  the 
expected  object.  It  seems  as  though  we  heard  those 
movements ;  the  sound  of  superhuman  footsteps,  an 
enormous  door  opening,  a  breath  caressing  us,  or  light 
coming  ;  we  do  not  know  ;  but  expectation  at  this  pitch 
is  an  ardent  and  marvellous  state  of  life,  the  fairest 
period  of  happiness,  its  youth,  its  childhood.  .  .  ." 

The  one  attitude  is  this  of  expectation,  of  inquiry,  the 
sense  of  vast  powers  and  purposes  almost  revealed.  M. 
Maeterlinck's  essays  have  the  best  quality  of  reverie. 
There  is  much  directly  reminiscent  of  Sir  Thomas 
Browne ;  reveries  of  life  and  death,  of  the  mystery  of 
things,  of  symbols  and  colours,  and  the  secret  meanings 
of  signs  and  numbers.  A  fascination  for  the  occult  distin- 
guishes his  latest  work,  for  the  spells  and  enchantments 
of  the  modern  spiritualisms  and  thought-reading,  and 
oracles  and  teachings  which  blossom  now,  as  in  former 
times,  on  the  ruins  of  the  great  systems  of  religion.  He 
will  inquire  concerning  the  mysteries  of  chance  as  seen  in 
the  dancing  of  the  tiny  ball  on  the  roulette  table  at 


Monte  Carlo.  He  will  inquire  again  how  it  is,  if  the 
future,  arising  naturally  from  the  changes  of  the  present, 
is  as  real  as  the  past,  that  the  veil  is  never  withdrawn 
which  hides  this  real  world  from  us. 

The  other  attitude  is  the  attitude  of  contentment  with 
the  common  things  of  life;  the  conclusion  of  the 
philosophy  of  the  eighteenth  century  that  "it  is  neces- 
sary to  cultivate  our  garden."  Under  the  mysteries 
already  unfolded,  amid  the  conflagrations  of  worlds  and 
systems,  undeterred  by  the  vast  solitudes  of  space  and 
their  enormous  cold,  M.  Maeterlinck  will  cultivate  his 
garden.  Lightness  and  brightness  are  added  to  the 
vision  of  natural  beauty.  On  the  "  motionless  road 
where  none  passes  save  the  eternal  forces  of  life " 
spring  comes  and  autumn,  the  rain  and  the  sun,  the 
silence  and  "the  night  followed  by  the  light  of  the 
moon."  It  is  no  small  thing  that  the  world  should 
grow  fairer  year  by  year,  and  men's  hearts  and  the 
weather  more  gentle.  "  We  live  in  a  world  in  which 
flowers  are  more  beautiful  and  more  numerous  than 
formerly ;  and  perhaps  we  have  the  right  to  add  that 
the  thoughts  of  men  are  more  just  and  greedier  of 
truth."  "We  are  mastering  the  nameless  powers." 
We  are  making  our  planet  all  our  own.  We  are 
"adorning  our  stay" — we  should  rejoice  at  it — "and 
gradually  broadening  the  acreage  of  happiness  and  of 
beautiful  life." 

The  curtain  rises  upon  the  violent  revolt  against  the 
things  of  the  present  which  Mr.  Shaw  voices — the  voice 
of  a  generation's  disgust  and  weariness.  The  action  of 
the  play  is  along  the  lines  of  deliberate  improvement 
outlined  by  Mr.  Wells  with  such  energy  and  appeal. 



And  the  curtain  falls  upon  a  vision  of  gentleness  and 
tranquillity  in  the  garden  of  flowers. 

Is  this  a  forecast — or  but  a  challenge — of  the  courses 
of  human  life  in  the  civilisation  of  the  West  during  the 
century  which  has  opened  with  such  uncertain  dawn  ? 



11  To  the  scientist  the  earth  mutt  for  ever  roll  around  the 
central  solar  fire :  to  the  poet  the  sun  must  for  ever  set  behind 
the  western  hills." 


corrodes  all  weakness  and  stamps  strength 
_  with  the  guarantee  of  its  approval.  Examina- 
tion of  its  fretting  upon  the  work  of  earlier  enthusiasms 
is  a  task  always  fruitful,  always  mournful.  Science, 
Literature,  Religion  alike  are  compelled  to  encounter  its 
salt  winds  and  subtle  forces  of  decay.  Science  rests,  it 
would  appear,  upon  knowledge  secure  when  attained, 
and  henceforth  indifferent  to  its  ravages.  Literature  is 
the  expression  of  man's  soul  in  which  Time  can  effect  no 
change.  Religion  and  its  experience  belongs  to  a  time- 
less universe.  Yet  the  man  who,  with  candour,  will 
examine  the  work  of  the  years  immediately  past  will 
find  in  none  of  these  regions  of  human  action  that 
serene  security.  I  can  think  of  three  authors  which 
each  at  one  time  burst  upon  the  mind  with  an  over- 
mastering domination.  Huxley  had  said  the  final 
word  of  the  sciences.  Mr.  Swinburne  represented  the 
supreme  expression  of  all  that  passionate  youth  desires 
of  literature.  Newman  had  penetrated  to  the  ultimate 
recesses  of  the  human  soul  within,  and  the  revelation 
without  of  a  hidden  God.  It  is  no  unprofitable  task  to 
review  after  a  decade  what  of  these  ardours  still  endures. 

How  is  time  treating  the  man  of  science,  whose  name 
sounds  through  all  the  great  intellectual  conflicts  of  the 
past  half-century?  Huxley  was  indeed  more  than  a 



scientific  investigator.  Writing  a  pure  and  nervous 
English,  he  plunged  into  varied  fields — philosophy, 
theology,  sociology,  the  struggle  for  intellectual  free- 
dom. In  all  these  many  hailed  him  as  leader.  Here 
time  has  already  commenced  the  work  of  destruction. 
The  enthusiasm  stimulated  by  the  vision  of  succes- 
sive scientific  advances  has  become  less  strident. 
The  "  fairy  godmother  "  whom  he  praised  has  proved 
powerless  to  abolish  the  evils  of  life.  Pain  and 
poverty  still  remain  to  trouble  the  little  life  of  man. 
The  Golden  Age  has  been  relegated  to  a  remoter 
future.  In  face  of  a  seven-million  peopled  Abyss  of 
lives  austere  with  want  and  crime,  the  famous  alterna- 
tive which  Huxley  himself  suggested,  the  "  kindly 
comet "  whose  advent  he  would  hail  as  a  "  desirable 
consummation,"  might  seem  a  not  unwelcome  alter- 
native. In  this  and  in  other  matters  the  spirit  of  men 
has  undergone  a  profound  change.  His  was  an  age  of 
faith  without  belief ;  ours,  of  belief  without  faith.  He 
fought  for  a  dismal  nescience  with  the  fervour  and 
devotion  of  a  Puritan.  We  have  witnessed  a  spiritual 
revival,  a  reaction  towards  constructive  belief  and  a 
faith  in  the  unseen.  But  this  faith  is  languid  and 
spiritless.  Men  for  the  most  part  hold  these  things 
only  tedious,  and  marvel  at  the  excitement  manifested 
by  their  fathers. 

Beyond  the  changes  of  the  age,  the  work  of  Huxley 
can  be  seen  in  a  clearer  perspective.  His  vigorous 
certainty,  the  power  of  popular  controversy  which  he 
possessed,  the  transparent  honesty  and  truthfulness  of 
the  man,  exercised  a  dominant  influence  upon  his 
contemporaries.  It  seemed  impossible  to  conceive 
that  he  could  be  in  the  wrong.  To-day  certain  limi- 
tations appear.  He  was  never  a  Liberal,  either  in 



politics  or  in  the  world  of  thought.  He  held  in  a  real 
abhorrence  everything  represented  by  the  name  of 
Gladstone.  To  the  most  heroic  and  sincere  of  all 
English  statesmen  he  found  it  difficult  to  award  even 
the  common  virtue  of  honesty.  Huxley  joined  issue 
along  the  whole  line  from  Home  Rule  to  the  Gadarene 
pigs.  He  read  into  the  political  action  some  of  the 
rather  complicated  and  tortuous  methods  of  the  theo- 
logical controversies.  He  became  convinced  that  he 
was  dealing  with  a  mind  evasive  and  rhetorical,  over- 
rated, leading  England  down  slippery  paths.  Towards 
the  end  of  his  life  he  recognised  that  a  kind  of  sacred 
duty  was  laid  upon  him  to  assail  the  Liberal  leader 
at  every  vulnerable  point.  Nor  was  he  a  Liberal  in 
thought.  He  fought,  indeed,  for  tolerance.  But  he 
desired  the  toleration,  not  of  opinion,  but  of  his  own 
opinions.  His  attitude,  as  Herbert  Spencer  told  him 
unkindly  and  in  a  famous  controversy,  was  that  of  a 
theologian  rather  than  a  philosopher.  He  refused 
resolutely  to  defend  the  baser  and  more  popular 
atheisms.  His  treatment  of  the  newer  sciences  of 
mental  disturbance  and  obscure  aberration  was  essen- 
tially similar  to  the  treatment  against  which  his  own 
sciences  had  slowly  struggled  to  recognition.  His 
attitude  to  the  Psychical  Research  Society  to  the  last 
was  one  of  contempt.  One  can  imagine  the  disgust 
with  which  he  would  contemplate  the  respect  and  wel- 
come which  have  been  given  in  later  years  to  the  work 
of  this  body  of  explorers. 

Sure  of  himself  and  with  a  power  of  relentless 
analysis  possessed  by  but  a  few,  he  became  the  terror 
of  all  weak  adherents  of  traditional  creeds.  Certainly 
he  cleared  the  ground  of  much  encumbering  rubbish. 
Yet  his  philosophy,  when  viewed  as  a  whole,  shows 



strange  inconsistencies,  and  his  theological  knowledge 
presents  startling  gaps.  In  philosophy  he  knew  the 
English  thinkers  well,  Hume  and  Berkeley;  he  could 
estimate  upon  the  traditional  English  lines  the  problems 
presented  by  the  newer  knowledge.  But  he  never  under- 
stood Kant.  All  German  metaphysics  he  dismissed  as 
moonshine.  He  spoke  for  the  moment,  upon  set  occa- 
sion, and  it  is  impossible  to  unify  his  often  sensational, 
always  noteworthy,  lectures  and  essays  into  one  con- 
sistent body  of  doctrine.  In  one  place  he  pictured 
human  beings  as  "conscious  automata  "  with  all  future 
changes  exactly  determined  by  the  past,  and  conscious- 
ness but  as  the  shadow  of  the  locomotive,  accompanying 
but  uninfluencing  the  progress  of  change.  At  another 
he  breaks  into  a  passionate  assertion  that  human  will 
"  counts  for  something  as  a  condition  of  the  course  of 
events,"  and  urges  each  of  his  hearers  deliberately  to 
set  himself  to  lighten  the  world's  load  of  suffering. 
On  the  broad  question  of  ultimate  reality  he  fluctuated 
in  quite  an  extraordinary  fashion  between  an  idealism 
and  a  materialism.  At  one  time  he  compared  the 
advance  of  law  in  the  spiritual  world  to  the  advance  of 
an  eclipse  upon  a  terrified  sun-worshipper  seeing  the 
extinction  of  his  god.  At  another  he  is  roundly  dismiss- 
ing all  these  "  laws  "  and  compulsions  as  gratuitously 
invested  bugbears.  On  the  moral  question  he  definitely 
changed.  At  first  he  was  laboriously  pleading  for  a 
purely  natural  system  of  ethics,  and  the  handy  and  ser- 
viceable garments  which  science  would  provide.  Later, 
in  his  Komanes  lecture,  the  most  brilliant  in  style  of 
all  his  work,  he  is  tearing  to  tatters  a  "  cosmic  process  " 
consummating  only  in  the  instincts  of  the  ape  and  the 
tiger.  In  his  theological  excursions,  acute  and  sugges- 
tive as  they  remain,  his  limitations  are  no  less  manifest. 



He  knew  the  work  of  Baur  and  one  or  two  other  German 
scholars.  The  opponents  he  fought  unfortunately  knew 
less.  But  he  was  convinced  that  the  whole  fabric  of 
the  accepted  religion  stood  as  one  piece.  He  had  been 
brought  up  to  hold  verbal  inspiration  as  the  only  legiti- 
mate theory.  The  rejection  of  a  Garden  of  Eden  or  a 
Noachian  deluge  seemed  to  him  the  rejection  of  the 
whole  of  Christianity.  Those  who  treated  these 
stories  in  any  but  literal  form  he  branded  as  disin- 
genuous and  "wrigglers."  He  appeared  never  to 
have  heard  of  Clement  or  Origen,  or  a  time  when 
while  Christianity  was  making  its  greatest  advances, 
these  early  legends  were  frankly  accepted  as  allegorical. 
Such  are  the  losses.  What  remains  ?  The  man 
still  stands  as  a  great  figure  and  character,  for  which 
the  world  is  richer.  He  was  strong,  hewn  from  rock, 
trenchant  of  all  shams  and  sophistries,  honest  as  the 
day,  stern  often,  but  with  a  fund  of  passionate  tender- 
ness only  revealed  to  the  outside  world  after  his  death. 
Ever  a  fighter,  he  delighted  in  battle  with  his  peers. 
He  loved  the  combat  for  the  combat's  sake.  Yet  he 
was  ever  courteous,  generous,  scrupulously  fair,  deter- 
mined never  needlessly  to  offend.  The  honesty  and 
utter  devotion  to  truth  is  perhaps  the  outstanding 
feature.  His  letter  to  Charles  Kingsley,  in  which, 
under  the  sudden  agony  of  a  strong  man's  suffering, 
he  poured  out  to  his  friend  the  secrets  of  his  heart, 
stands  as  one  of  the  great  utterances  in  the  history  of 
the  life  of  the  spirit.  From  the  grave  of  his  dead 
child  he  refused  to  delude  himself  with  a  hope  which, 
could  he  only  accept  it,  would  have  changed  the  face  of 
the  world.  Like  George  Eliot,  he  resolved  to  do  without 
opium.  It  was  this  resolute  truthfulness  which  gave 
him  the  power  to  destroy  with  such  sudden  and  over- 



whelming  destruction  such  as  Samuel  Wilberforce. 
The  scene  at  the  British  Association  meeting  at 
Oxford  has  become  historic  as  one  of  the  great 
episodes  in  the  conflict  between  authority  and  progress. 

The  record  of  friendships  which  kept  such  a  body  as 
the  X  Society  dining  together  for  so  many  decades  ; 
the  touches  of  home  affection,  the  very  human  outbursts 
of  impatience  at  stupidity  and  ignorance  in  high  places ; 
the  tenderness  of  the  strong  man  towards  children  and 
the  weak;  the  occasional  passages  of  almost  startling 
self-revelation,  of  half-wistful  hope  moderating  the  trucu- 
lent agnosticism  as  he  confronts  the  mysteries  of  Life 
and  Death — these  are  the  elements  which  reveal  a 
character  of  an  unchanging  attraction. 

It  is  the  strenuous  life  devoted  to  high  ends.  There 
is  a  very  pleasant  picture  in  his  life  of  the  Sunday  even- 
ings in  St.  John's  Wood  in  the  latter  years.  In  summer 
the  family  are  gathered  in  the  garden.  Friends  drop  in, 
there  is  talk  of  the  latest  scientific  results,  of  progress, 
and  the  smiting  of  the  enemy.  It  is  the  afternoon 
of  the  successful  man,  golden,  but  with  a  touch  of 
evening  and  the  approaching  night.  There  is  that  in 
plenty  which  should  accompany  old  age :  honour,  love, 
obedience,  troops  of  friends.  Only  in  the  end  some- 
thing appears  lacking.  Perhaps  the  outlook  entirely 
narrowed  to  a  fragment  of  time  and  the  success  of  a 
lifetime  stands  judged  by  a  sense  of  larger  issues  beyond. 
It  is  Sunday  evening.  Outside  the  walled  garden  is  a 
chaos  of  confusion  and  pain.  And  as  the  twilight  falls 
there  comes  the  sound  of  a  world-old  appeal  renewed 
ever  in  humility  and  patience :  "  Pitifully  behold  the 
sorrows  of  our  hearts.  Mercifully  forgive  the  sins  of 
Thy  people." 




Mr.  Swinburne  in  the  preface  to  the  collected  edition 
of  his  work,  has  surveyed  the  long  progress  from  the 
day  when  "  Atalanta "  revealed  a  new  and  magnifi- 
cent force  in  literature,  and  later  the  first  poems  and 
ballads  astonished  and  scandalised  the  world.  He 
found  nothing  of  which  to  repent,  nothing  to  with- 
draw. He  described  the  whole  succession  of  changing 
subjects :  the  early  poetry  of  passion,  the  songs  of 
sunrise,  the  national  faith  and  its  heroes,  the  dramas, 
the  poems  of  spiritual  revolt,  and  the  celebration  of 
the  coming  dawn ;  and  after  these  the  poetry  of 
natural  things  and  of  childhood  ;  and,  above  all,  the 
voice  of  triumph  and  longing  which  runs  through  the 
whole  series,  the  "  light  and  sound  and  darkness 
of  the  sea."  Of  the  first,  "  there  are  photographs 
from  life  in  the  book,"  he  asserted,  "  and  there  are 
sketches  from  imagination.  Some  which  keen-sighted 
criticism  has  dismissed  with  a  smile  as  ideal  or  imaginary 
were  as  real  and  actual  as  they  well  could  be  ;  others 
which  have  been  taken  for  obvious  transcripts  from 
memory  were  utterly  fantastic  or  dramatic."  To  all 
that  hubbub  of  anger  of  "  the  spiritually  still-born 
children  of  dirt  and  dullness,"  the  author  was  as 
indifferent  then  as  he  is  to-day. 

But  in  the  poems  of  freedom  "  there  is  no  touch  of 
dramatic  impersonation  or  imaginary  emotion/'  They 
were  inspired  by  "  such  faith  as  is  born  of  devotion  and 
reverence  "  ;  reverence  to  a  cause  and  to  its  leaders ; 
especially  to  "  the  three  living  gods,  I  do  not  say  of  my 
idolatry,  for  idolatry  is  a  term  inapplicable  where  the 
gods  are  real  and  true,  but  of  my  whole-souled  and 


single-hearted  worship  " — Landor,  Hugo,  Mazzini — the 
last  "the  man  whom  I  had  always  revered  above  the 
other  men  on  earth." 

The  appeal  of  the  new  spiritual  sunrise,  with  the 
signs  of  the  passing  of  the  night  of  the  older  re- 
ligions Mr.  Swinburne  gathered  up  especially  in  "  twin 
poems  of  antiphonal  correspondence  in  subject  and 
sound,"  "  the  '  Hymn  to  Proserpine  '  and  the  '  Hymn 
of  Man ' — the  death  song  of  spiritual  decadence,  and 
the  birth  song  of  spiritual  renascence." 

Such  a  defiant  re-assertion  of  the  faith  of  a  lifetime 
is  a  challenge  to  all  the  memories  of  the  past.  I 
commenced,  a  boy  at  school,  with  the  earlier  selections, 
reading  in  mingled  perplexity  and  tedium.  The  long 
sea  poems  of  the  second  series  of  the  "  Poems  and 
Ballads,"  with  their  difficult  metres,  their  rhetoric,  and 
their  frequent  obscurity,  serve  as  about  the  worst 
possible  form  of  introduction  to  Mr.  Swinburne's  poetry. 
And  a  volume  which  contained  scarcely  anything  from 
the  first  "  Poems  and  Ballads,"  and  none  of  the  greatest 
of  the  Atalanta  choruses — a  volume  omitting  "  The 
Garden  of  Proserpine  "  and  the  "  Triumph  of  Time  " 
and  "Hesperia,"  with  the  "Songs  before  Sunrise" 
very  inadequately  represented,  failed  altogether  to  reveal 
the  magic  of  the  master. 

My  conversion  was  effected  later,  at  Cambridge,  and 
at  a  lecture  upon  Swinburne  by  Mr.  Frederic  Myers. 
The  instrument  of  the  sudden  change  was  the  end  of 
"  Tristram "  recited  in  the  deep,  impassioned  chant 
which  I  suppose  Myers  had  learnt  from  Tennyson.  I 
can  still  hear  the  throb  of  the  music  as  the  emotion 
deepened  to  the  splendour  of  that  imperishable  close : — 



"  Nor  where  they  sleep  shall  moon  or  sunlight  shine, 
Nor  man  look  down  for  ever  ;  none  shall  say 
Here  once,  or  here,  Tristram  and  Iseult  lay  ; 
But  peace  they  have  that  none  may  gain  who  live, 
And  rest  about  them  that  no  love  can  give, 
And  over  them,  while  death  and  life  shall  be, 
The  light  and  sound  and  darkness  of  the  sea." 

From   that   moment   commenced   an   allegiance  which 
speedily  passed  into  an  unfaltering  worship. 

Then  came  the  period,  which  most  young  men  have 
passed  through,  of  intoxication,  when  we  would  hurl 
Swinburnian  imprecations  upon  "  whatever  gods  may 
be,"  or  in  the  interval  between  a  football  match  and  a 
hearty  meal  proclaim  our  thirst  for  annihilation  to  the 
unconscious  stars.  Time  and  the  experience  of  sorrow 
wore  down  these  earlier  ardours ;  much  of  the  swing- 
ing stanzas  began  to  appear  as  rhetoric,  or  at  best 
eloquence,  rather  than  poetry.  Much  also  was  revealed 
as  so  detached,  cold,  and  separate  from  "  the  labouring 
world  "as  to  give  the  impression  of  a  hard,  inhuman 
glitter  and  brilliance  ;  the  brilliance  of  the  Arabian 
Nights,  the  hardness  and  cruelty  of  the  stories  of 

But  still  the  old  spell  in  part  remains.  To-day  one 
can  again  recall  the  fascination  of  the  buoyancy  and 
ardour,  the  waves  of  passionate  eloquence,  that  violence 
of  triumph  and  weariness  which  will  make  Swinburne 
always  the  singer  of  the  springtime,  and  only  pass  when 
youth  has  vanished  from  the  world. 

No  poet  has  attained  such  general  recognition  of 
supremacy  with  less  general  acceptance  of  his  ideals  in 
life  and  literature.  In  a  secure  vitality,  and  with 
Death  a  thing  incredible,  we  were  all  intoxicated  with 
the  poems  of  its  praise.  Later,  with  life  passing,  and 



the  shadow  lengthening  on  the  hills,  "  the  end  of  every 
man's  desire "  seemed  something  less  desirable.  It 
says  much  for  the  spells  and  sorcery  of  the  enchanter, 
the  magic  of  an  outburst  of  music,  alike  mournful  and 
triumphant,  that  the  accepted  verdict  could  even  for  a 
moment  be  denied,  and  men  at  the  last  gather  to  enlist 
under  the  defiant  banner  of  defeat. 

For  it  is  not  death  alone  which  is  here  commemorated 
in  song.  Not  only  the  fascination  of  sleep  and  silence 
are  celebrated  in  the  hymn  to  Proserpine,  and  revealed 
in  the  unforgettable  vision  of  her  garden,  with  its 
bloomless  poppies  and  dreams  of  forsaken  days.  Here 
is  also  the  elevation  of  Destruction  as  against  Creation, 
the  denial  of  the  desirability  of  life  itself,  the  deliberate 
rejection  of  that  exultation  of  Being  for  which  the 
morning  stars  sang  together,  and  all  the  sons  of  God 
shouted  for  joy.  Mr.  Swinburne  'v  took  the  work  of  the 
Revolution  and  pushed  it  home,  without  that  faith  in  a 
universal  restitution  which  broke  the  seals  and  poured 
out  the  vials  and  loosened  "  the  thunder  of  the  trumpets 
of  the  night."  He  tears  down  King  and  Priest.  He 
rages  against  all  the  ancient  oppressive  laws.  He 
demands  the  clearance  of  the  accumulated  refuse  of  the 
dead.  But  this  alone  will  not  content  him.  Destruc- 
tion, renunciation,  annihilation  must  be  elevated  in  the 
place  of  the  gods  dethroned.  And  in  the  end  he 
passes  to  a  world  vision  of  the  work  of  dissolution 
accomplishing  itself  to  its  far  conclusion:  the  earth 
and  all  its  peoples  passing,  its  hopes  and  hates,  its  homes 
and  fanes,  the  bones  of  the  grave  and  the  grave  in  which 
they  have  been  laid  ;  sun,  moon,  and  stars  crashing  into 
the  abyss  :  hell  and  the  palaces  of  heaven  and  the  older 
and  the  newer  gods,  and  everything  that  is  and  has  been 
and  is  to  come  crumbling  into  darkness  and  silence,  with 



all  that  remains  an  enormous  nothingness,  an  enormous 
cold.  Others  have  gazed  upon  this  picture  with  shudder- 
ing, while  deeming  it  but  a  dream  and  a  vision.  Modern 
theories  of  Evolution  have  suddenly  endowed  it  with 
fierce  and  insistent  life.  It  was  left  for  the  century 
which  felt  the  thing  gripping  at  its  heart  to  produce  a 
poet  who  would  confront  it  not  with  horror,  but  with 
exultation,  proclaiming  with  a  passionate  violence  the 
ending  of  all  violence  and  passionxx' 

This  is  new  in  literature,  and  this  must  endure, 
the  vision  is  not  yet  destined  to  vanish.  A  civilisation 
becoming  more  and  more  divided  from  sane  and  rational 
things  is  destined  more  and  more  eagerly  to  welcome  a 
Gotterdammerung  which  will  involve  not  only  itself, 
but  all  existence  in  a  cosmic  desolation.  Two  great 
and  emotional  appeals  against  this  assertion  of  an 
elemental  despair  lie  in  the  early  work  of  Mr. 
Swinburne.  In  the  choruses  of  the  "  Atalanta "  is 
the  revolt  rather  than  the  acquiescence  of  man  in 
such  an  ending.  "  Because  thy  name  is  life  and 
our  name  death  " ;  because  "  thou  hast  fed  one  rose 
with  dust  of  many  men  "  ;  therefore  "  all  we  are  against 
thee,  against  thee,  O  God  most  high."  And  in  the 
"  Songs  before  Sunrise,"  with  their  celebration  of  national 
resistance  to  Imperial  supremacy,  a  resistance  congruous 
with  "  the  actual  earth's  equalities,  air,  light,  and  night, 
hills,  winds,  and  trees,"  manifested  in  the  European 
struggle  for  the  liberation  of  the  smaller  peoples,  the 
worship  of  Proserpine  vanished  before  the  vision  of  a 
splendid  dawn. 

Later  Mr.  Swinburne  turned  back  upon  the  national 
cause :  and  with  that  desertion  his  inspiration  fell  from 
him  like  a  garment ;  so  that  with  each  successive  volume 
of  fluent  verse  men  said  sadly  to  one  another  :  "  There 

225  g 


was  a  Swinburne."  These  later  productions  form  a 
study  of  profound  sadness.  With  the  poems  arranged  in 
order  of  writing,  and  surveyed  as  a  whole,  the  volumes 
might  not  untruthfully  be  labelled  "  the  dying  of  Genius." 
To  turn  from  the  opening  of  the  "  Poems  and  Ballads  " 
to  the  close  of  the  "  Channel  Passage  "  is  to  turn  from 
life  to  death.  Youth  has  gone,  and  with  youth  the 
passionate  faith  in  high,  disinterested  causes.  The 
poems  leave  a  nasty  taste  in  the  mouth ;  the  taste  of  a 
snarl  and  a  sneer.  Much  might  appear  as  a  parody 
of  Swinburne  written  by  a  reporter  of  the  journalism 
of  the  day.  The  injunction  to  the  Russian  revolu- 
tionists upon  the  accession  of  the  present  Czar — to 
"  smite  and  send  him  howling  down  his  father's  way  " — 
may  perhaps  be  passed  as,  at  least,  in  the  tradition  of 
the  terrible  sonnets  of  1870  upon  "  Napoleon  III." 
But  what  is  to  be  said  of  the  jeerings  at  the  Irish 
Nationalists,  the  clamorous  invective  dashed  against 
Gladstone  ?  Or  those  deplorable  sonnets  in  which  the 
poet  acclaims  the  sailing  of  the  soldiers  against  the 
Boer  Ptepublics  ?  The  foes  of  England  are  chivalrously 
described  as  "  like  wolves,"  "  dogs  agape  with  jaws 
afoam,"  with  "  foul  tongues  that  blacken  God's  dis- 
honoured name."  The  poet  cries  for  vengeance  and 
destruction  and  screeches  shrilly  for  blood. 

The  emotion  aroused  in  the  reader  is  that  of  Japhet 
towards  the  drunken  Noah.  These  poems  are  already 
dead.  In  the  future  they  will  be  mercifully  forgotten. 
To  escape  from  this  fog  and  foulness  to  a  cleaner  air 
and  the  sight  again  of  sunlight  and  the  stars  you  have 
only  to  turn  back  to  the  former  things : — 

"  Content  thee,  howsoe'er,  whose  days  are  done ; 
There  lies  not  any  troublous  thing  before, 


Nor  sight  nor  sound  to  war  against  thee  more ; 
For  whom  all  winds  are  quiet  as  the  sun, 
All  waters  as  the  shore." 

It  is  welcome  to  turn  from  so  indecent  a  spectacle  to 
the  memories  of  the  earlier  time.  For  here  is  the  out- 
burst of  an  inspiration's  dawn ;  before  a  too  passionate 
spring  tide  and  time  which  changes  all  good  things  had 
left  nothing  but  scentless  autumn  flowers,  and  of  all  the 
year's  earlier  promise  "  only  dead  yew  leaves  and  a  little 


Newman,  of  all  the  pilgrims  of  Eternity,  absorbed  in 
a  world  alien  to  the  common  interests  of  man,  stands 
alone  in  the  fascination  of  his  influence  upon  those 
of  entirely  incongruous  ideals.  Amongst  all  the  strange 
problems  of  his  personality,  none  are  more  perplexing 
than  that  of  the  origins.  That  "  typical  Englishmen  " 
should  have  inherited  traditions  long  imbedded  in  the 
past.  The  writer  of  the  most  perfect  and  simple  Eng- 
lish prose  since  Bunyan,  the  child  of  the  English 
Church,  with  enthusiasm  for  her  ancient  ways,  the 
voice  through  which  the  very  spirit  of  Oxford  and  the 
old  University  ideal  became  articulate,  should  have 
originated,  one  would  think,  in  some  secluded  line  of 
ancestry,  an  historical  family  of  the  landed  classes,  or 
with  memories  of  ancestral  services  to  learning  and 
religion.  The  facts  were  entirely  otherwise.  Newman 
was  a  stranger,  an  alien,  with  scarcely  a  drop  of  Eng- 
lish blood  in  his  veins.  On  his  father's  side  he  was 
descended  from  a  line  of  Dutch  Jews ;  on  his  mother's, 
from  a  family  of  French  Huguenots.  He  appears  as 
the  son  of  a  clerk  in  a  banking  firm,  in  straitened  cir- 



cumstances.  His  childhood  was  passed  near  Richmond. 
He  attended  a  middle-class  school  at  Ealing.  His 
sister's  name  was  Jemima.  He  was  reared  in  the 
typical  evangelical  piety  of  the  middle  classes,  which, 
turned  stagnant,  gave  cause  later  for  such  merciless 
satire  in  "  Loss  and  Gain."  Two  rough  deductions 
from  history  to  which  Newman  seemed  an  exception, 
are  indeed  confirmed  by  the  discovery  of  this  ancestry. 
The  one  is  that  genius  is  the  child  of  the  mixture 
of  races.  The  other  is  that  the  great  religious 
leaders  and  saints  of  England,  from  the  days  of  Anselm 
or  Hugh  of  Lincoln,  the  "  humble  and  heavenly 
stranger,"  have  been  for  the  most  part  of  alien  stock. 
The  pure  Saxon  blood  does  not  easily  turn  to  the  high 
endeavours  of  the  soul. 

Those  who  would  fully  estim  ate  the  life  of  this  extra- 
ordinary man,  are  confronted  with  a  difficulty  at  the 
present  insuperable.  In  the  first  half  of  the  story,  the 
material  is  superabundant  ;  in  the  second,  almost 
entirely  lacking.  "  The  going  out  of  '45  "  cut  through 
the  life  history,  severing  all  the  strings  of  friendship 
and  tradition.  From  existence  passed  in  a  glare  of 
sunshine  almost  pitiless,  revealing  every  spot  and 
wrinkle,  Newman  suddenly  passed  into  silence  and 
grey  shadow.  For  over  forty  years  there  remain  but  a 
few  scattered  letters  :  the  Manning  correspondence, 
occasional  notes  to  Lord  Acton  and  others,  and  such 
chance  reminiscences  as  have  appeared  in  the  biography 
of  others.  The  published  books  alone  for  the  majority 
revealed  that  Newman  still  lived  on.  These  years  were 
of  tranquillity  indeed,  and  confidence  in  the  haven 
attained  after  rough  voyaging.  But  there  were  schemes 
of  service  always  checked  and  baffled,  and  the  failure  of 
many  designs  whose  influences  might  have  been  incal- 



culable.  The  plan  for  his  retranslation  of  the  Catholic 
Bible  was  sanctioned  by  Wiseman,  then  withdrawn  in 
obedience  to  the  protest  of  the  booksellers.  The  daring 
project  of  a  return  to  Oxford,  which  might  have  changed 
the  history  of  the  future,  was  checked  and  finally 
destroyed  by  Manning  in  a  piece  of  ecclesiastical 
intrigue  which  the  friends  of  Catholicism  would  fain 
forget.  "  A  painful  correspondence  "  ended  in  "a 
lifelong  estrangement."  Seven  years  were  spent  in 
a  kind  of  nightmare  struggle  in  Ireland,  endeavour- 
ing to  create  a  Catholic  University,  amid  a  chaos  of 
political  intrigue  and  religious  bigotry.  The  history  of 
this  he  has  left  in  a  volume  privately  printed.  The 
true  history  of  that  troublous  experiment  would  make  a 
record  at  once  entertaining  and  piteous.  He  was  torn 
between  two  parties,  each  demanding  the  support  of  his 
great  name,  each  indignant  when  he  refused  to  throw  in 
his  lot  with  them.  The  Liberals,  under  Lord  Acton, 
held  that  he  had  deceived  and  betrayed  them.  To  the 
last,  Lord  Acton  could  never  afterwards  speak  of  New- 
man without  reproach  and  bitterness.  The  opponents 
of  Liberalism  on  the  other  hand,  were  never  likely  to 
forgive  the  spirit  which  found  expression  in  the  denun- 
ciation of  their  methods  in  the  letter  on  the  Vatican 
decree.  A  criticism,  says  his  latest  biographer,  "  which 
includes  all  his  opponents,"  is  "  that  they  failed  to 
comprehend  an  intellect  greater  than  their  own,  busy 
with  problems  to  the  vast  horizons  of  which  their  view 
could  not  extend." 

The  great  works  which  remain  to-day  for  our  estimate 
and  judgment  are  in  fact  but  polemical  pamphlets  called 
forth  by  the  controversy  of  a  day.  But  for  the  madness 
of  the  Catholic  aggression,  we  would  never  have  had  the 
"  Present  Position  of  Catholics,"  one  of  the  great  books 



of  the  nineteenth  century  :  a  plea  against  mob-rule  un- 
equalled in  its  mingling  of  pathos,  irony,  and  restraint. 
But  for  the  call  to  impossible  work  in  Ireland,  the 
lectures  on  the  "  Ideal  of  a  University  "  would  never 
have  been  given  ;  and  the  world  would  have  been  poorer 
by  the  most  magnificent  of  appeals  for  knowledge  as  in 
itself  an  end,  for  theology  as  an  essential  of  true  learn- 
ing, for  education  in  its  true  and  not  its  accepted 
meaning.  And  but  for  Kingsley's  random  and  reckless 
onslaught  the  "  Apologia "  would  never  have  been 
written,  and  Newman  would  have  gone  to  his  grave 
unvindicated  ;  the  product  of  six  weeks'  white-heat 
emotion  having  produced,  as  by  a  kind  of  miracle,  one 
of  the  most  convincing  of  all  records  of  the  pilgrimage  of 
the  soul. 

Still  to-day,  however,  abides  unchallenged  the 
supremacy  of  Newman's  English  prose.  For  mingled 
refinement,  simplicity,  gentleness,  this  stands  unrivalled 
in  his  time.  Specially  concerned  and  entirely  congruous 
with  the  deeper  things  of  existence — sin  and  its  con- 
sequences, the  mysteries  encompassing  human  life,  its 
uncertainty  and  future,  the  longing  of  the  soul  for  God 
— it  possesses  qualities  which  would  have  made  Newman 
triumphant  upon  the  plane  of  the  controversies  of  the 
world.  His  power  of  irony,  indeed,  is  unsurpassed ; 
triumphant  in  all  its  expressions :  from  the  more  delicate 
irony  of  the  description  of  the  English  gentleman, 
through  the  broader  satire  upon  the  English  view  of 
"  Don  Felix  Melatesta  de  Guadaloupe,"  to  the  savage 
and  awful  irony  of  the  lost  soul's  awakening  in  the 
"  Sermons  to  Mixed  Congregations,"  at  which  the 
reader  is  moved  against  his  will  to  a  kind  of  metallic 

It  is  as  a  mysterious,  majestic  figure  that  Newman 


appears  in  the  history  of  his  age  :  at  heart  solitary. 
Life  for  him  was  "  a  dialogue  not  a  drama."  Turn 
where  you  will  in  his  writing,  you  find  the  same  spirit : 
an  inner  life  of  ahsorbing  interest,  a  grave  wonder  at  the 
ends  and  ideals  of  man,  his  folly,  his  aspirations,  the 
confusion  he  has  made  of  his  world.  The  music  of  that 
voice  holds  the  listener  enchanted,  as  it  appeals  from 
all  transitory  things  to  those  which  alone  are  secure  and 
abiding ; — 

"  The  world  goes  on  from  age  to  age,  but  the  Holy 
Angels  and  blessed  Saints  are  always  crying  alas,  alas  ! 
and  woe,  woe !  over  the  loss  of  vocations  and  the  dis- 
appointment of  hopes,  and  the  scorn  of  God's  love  and 
the  rain  of  souls.  .  .  .  Times  come  and  go,  and  men 
will  not  believe  that  that  is  to  be  which  is  not  yet,  or 
that  what  now  is  only  continues  for  a  season,  and  is 
not  eternity.  The  end  is  the  trial :  the  world  passes  : 
it  is  but  a  pageant  and  a  scene :  the  lofty  palace 
crumbles,  the  busy  city  is  mute,  the  ships  of  Tarshish 
have  sped  away.  On  heart  and  flesh  death  is  coming ; 
the  veil  is  breaking.  ...  0,  my  Lord  and  Saviour,  let 
me  die  as  I  desire  to  live,  in  Thy  faith,  in  Thy  Church, 
in  Thy  Service,  and  in  Thy  love." 

The  curtain  of  that  quiet  life  is  torn  aside  for  a 
moment  at  intervals  as  the  years  go  by.  At  each 
revelation  Newman  appears,  still  expecting,  looking 
outwards  at  the  tremendous  turmoil  of  the  world  with 
pity,  sadness,  surprise.  In  his  own  chosen  epitaph,  he 
turned  "Ex  umbris  et  imaginibus  in  veritatem."  That 
world  then  and  afterwards  has  been  at  once  attracted 
and  baffled  :  as  the  world  is  ever  attracted  and  baffled 
by  one  who  possesses  both  a  secret  which  it  cannot 
penetrate,  and  an  indifference  to  all  it  holds  dear. 


"Nil  nisi  Divinum  stabile  eat,  ccetera  fumus." 



r  I  THERE  are  books  and  writers  which  command 
JL  a  universal  attention.  The  critic  immediately 
can  assert  a  supremacy.  Here  is  literature,  unchal- 
lenged, secure.  The  world  may  be  indifferent,  the 
comment  of  the  crowd  perplexed  or  doubtful.  But  the 
decision  is  confident  and  final.  There  are  others,  for 
which  no  similar  high  claim  can  be  advanced,  which 
yet  may  appeal  to  the  individual  with  a  particular 
entreaty.  There  are  weaknesses  obvious,  flaws,  limita- 
tions. The  legitimacy  of  another's  criticism  must  be 
recognised,  as  the  claim  is  dismissed  with  scorn  or 
aberration,  and  direct  interest  is  suggested  as  the  cause 
of  the  extravagant  praise.  Nevertheless  every  writer 
who  is  compelled  to  pass  under  review  any  large 
quantities  of  prose  and  poetry  must  of  necessity  find 
some  which,  through  temperament  or  common  interest, 
comes  with  a  special  appeal.  Henceforth  this  work  is 
placed  upon  a  particular  shelf  of  the  memory.  He  can 
listen  unmoved  to  all  analysis  and  depreciation.  To 
you  these  are  nothing,  or  but  ruins  of  great  effort :  to 
me  they  have  come  with  something  of  the  force  of  an 

I  can  think  of  certain  tiny  volumes — in  all  a  few 
hundred  pages — which  in  the  past  few  years,  amongst 



literature  still  unrecognised,  have  given  me  this  special 
delight.  Here  I  can  describe  some  of  them  :  a  volume 
of  gloomy,  almost  morbid,  self-analysis  by  an  author 
terming  himself  "  Mark  Rutherford  "  :  a  series  of  little 
impressionist  sketches  by  Mr.  Lewis  Hind  :  the  "  Son- 
nets of  the  Wingless  Hours  " :  the  poems  of  Mrs. 
Marriott  Watson. 

All  of  these  penetrate  beneath  the  outward  show  of 
things.  All  present  a  picture  of  a  world  of  tragic 
import  unheeded  in  the  traffic  of  men.  There  is 
the  soul's  hunger  behind  the  visible  pages,  a  vision  of 
longing  and  baffled  purposes.  The  spirit  which  unites 
them  all  is  the  sense  of  the  greatness  and  the  sadness 
of  the  life  of  man,  pent  up  in  the  kingdoms  of  Pity 
and  of  Death. 

My  first  reading  of  the  "Autobiography"  was  at 
Cambridge,  and  my  marked  copy  is  the  fifth  edition, 
dated  1892.  I  took  the  book  home  from  the  book- 
sellers and  read  it  through  at  a  sitting,  and  immediately 
hurried  out  and  ordered  the  "  Deliverance,"  which, 
when  it  came,  received  the  same  treatment.  I  thought 
then  that  the  two  books  represented  in  their  intimacy 
and  sincerity  and  simple,  refined  style  something 
unique  in  modern  English  literature.  For  perhaps 
the  seventh  time  I  have  read  this  life  story  again. 
And  I  would  entirely  endorse  the  earlier  verdict.  If 
this  be  not  literature  "  of  the  centre,"  then  all  our 
accepted  standards  of  taste  must  be  abandoned,  and  the 
test  of  greatness  sought  in  the  popular  rhetoric  and 
the  largest  circulation  in  the  world. 



Yet  "  Mark  Rutherford  "  has  never  entirely  come 
into  his  own.  Many  who  are  familiar  with  that  thin 
stream  of  literature  which  still  trickles  through  the 
parched  and  blackened  land  of  present  printed  matter, 
have  failed  to  recognise  the  greatness  of  this  life  history 
of  one  of  the  unimportant.  I  remember  once  discussing 
with  Professor  Henry  Sidgwick  these  and  other  works. 
He  told  me  that  as  he  was  getting  older  he  came  more 
and  more  to  limit  his  novel  reading  to  those  books 
which  gave  him  pleasure,  and  that  he  could  not  find 
pleasure  in  such  works  as  the  "  Autobiography  of  Mark 
Rutherford."  And  indeed  the  standpoint  has  to  be 
somewhat  detached — an  appreciation  of  artistic  excel- 
lence, of  one  thing  set  to  do,  and  supremely  well  done — 
if  pleasure  is  to  be  obtained  from  this  haunting  picture 
of  man's  futility  and  his  failure.  "  Mark  Rutherford," 
as  Bagehot's  old  lady  said  of  Thackeray,  is  "an  un- 
comfortable writer."  The  passionless  detachment  of 
the  narrative  makes  the  resultant  impression  all  the 
more  challenging  and  sorrowful.  The  reader  finds 
himself  suddenly  confronted  with  pictures  which  he 
would  fain  forget,  with  questionings  which  he  has 
generally  managed  to  put  by  in  the  bustle  of  business 
or  pleasure.  A  modern  scientific  writer  has  announced 
a  transformation,  through  the  growth  of  a  newer 
knowledge,  of  the  last  words  of  the  ancient  wisdom. 
"  Man,  know  thyself,"  has  been  changed  into  the 
counsel,  "  Man,  may  thou  never  know  what  thou  art." 
If  this  verdict  is  to  be  accepted  as  final,  the  work  of 
"  Mark  Rutherford  "  may  well  be  placed  on  some  future 
index  of  proscription  of  a  race  determined  to  life  always 
in  the  summer  days. 

This  dreary  outlook,  in  his  case  as  in  the  case  of 
another  painter  of  modern  life  and  its  failures, 



George  Gissing,  may  be  the  chief  cause  of  the 
lack  of  recognition.  In  the  city  civilisation  of  the 
present  there  is  an  element  of  boisterous  and  lively 
fancy,  noisy  and  cheerful  and  untroubled  by  the  pale 
cast  of  thought.  Hampstead  Heath  and  Margate 
Sands,  the  popular  election  scrimmage,  the  Daily 
Telegraph,  give  together  that  note  of  exuberance 
which  Mr.  Boutmy  has  found  most  characteristic  of 
the  English  middle  class.  This  note  is  altogether 
absent  from  Mark  Rutherford's  pages.  In  one  of  the 
late  chapters  of  the  "Deliverance  "  the  author  describes 
how  one  Sunday,  on  "  a  lovely  summer's  morning  in 
mid  July,"  he  and  Ellen  and  the  child  Marie  took  an 
excursion  to  Hastings.  "  Our  pleasure  was  exquisite, 
we  had  a  wonderful  time."  "  To  be  free  of  the  litter 
and  filth  of  a  London  suburb,  of  its  broken  hedges,  its 
brickbats,  its  torn  advertisements,  its  worn  and  trampled 
grass  in  fields,  half  given  over  to  the  speculative  builder, 
in  place  of  this  to  tread  the  immaculate  sea-shore,  over 
which  breathed  a  wind  not  charged  with  soot,  to  replace 
the  dull,  shrouding  obscurity  of  the  smoke  by  a  distance 
so  distinct  that  the  masts  of  the  ships  whose  hulls  were 
buried  below  the  horizon  were  visible — all  this  was 
perfect  bliss." 

"  We  wanted  nothing,  we  had  nothing  to  achieve." 
Later,  on  the  return  home,  "  all  the  glory  of  the 
morning"  was  forgotten  in  a  huddled,  overcrowded 
carriage,  with  drinking  women  roaring  obscene  songs. 
The  incident  is  symbolic  of  a  life  history,  or,  rather,  of 
a  temperament.  His  companions  on  the  excursion  were 
probably  profoundly  bored  by  the  sun  and  the  sea,  and 
only  happy  in  the  intervals  of  eating,  rollicking  merri- 
ment, and  the  joys  of  the  return  journey.  Lacking  this 
rollicking  joy  through  all  discomfort,  the  single  isolated 



toiler,  trampled  under  in  the  modern  struggle  for  exist- 
ence, may  be  forgiven  if  he  thinks  that  he  has  anticipated 
the  tortures  of  the  Inferno.  And  the  type  of  all  civilised 
existence  is  gathered  up  in  one  pitiful  figure  here 
exhibited  for  a  moment  in  the  waste  of  London.  A 
clerk  in  a  gallery,  four  foot  from  the  ceiling  in  a  gas- 
lighted  office,  his  life  consists  in  addressing  envelopes 
ten  hours  a  day.  He  is  bewildered  by  the  perpetual 
foul  grossness  of  his  fellow-slaves :  and  only  able  to 
endure  the  awful  monotony  of  his  existence  by  changes 
from  steel  pens  to  quills,  or  variations  in  the  walk  to  the 
house  of  his  servitude. 

Modern  England  appears  in  these  pages,  modern 
England,  indeed,  under  grey  skies,  and  interpreted  by  one 
to  whom  the  passing  of  the  dreams  of  childhood  and  its 
high  hopes  for  the  future  has  brought  none  of  the 
customary  apathy  and  numbness.  In  the  "  Auto- 
biography" the  scene  is  mainly  in  the  provinces. 
The  interest  is  in  spiritual  combats  amongst  the 
ultimate  questions  of  existence.  Here  is  an  unfor- 
gettable gallery  of  portraits  of  the  types  of  the  lower 
middle  class  in  provincial  cities.  These,  it  must  be 
confessed,  are  in  the  main  unpleasant  with  narrowness 
and  hypocrisy.  Sordid  love  of  gain  is  dominant,  with 
an  incredibly  low  standard  of  culture  and  of  honour. 
They  include  the  students  of  the  theological  college, 
the  worshippers  of  Water  Lane,  Mr.  Snale,  the  "  Christian 
tradesman  "  and  bully,  and  Mrs.  Snale,  "  cruel,  not 
with  the  ferocity  of  the  tiger,  but  with  the  dull  insensi- 
bility of  a  cart-wheel,"  and  Mr.  Hexton,  with  "  not  a 
single  chink,  however  narrow,  through  which  his  soul 
looked  out  of  itself  upon  the  great  world  around." 
They  come,  they  go.  Of  few  are  more  than  a  few 
words  said.  The  narrator  passes  from  the  college 



through  the  Baptist  chapel  at  the  little  provincial 
town  to  the  Unitarian  chapel  in  the  country,  and  so 
to  the  private  school  and  the  Atheistic  publishing  office. 
But  in  each  chapter  appear  these  clear-cut  characters, 
drawn  with  a  confident,  firm  hand.  So  that  the  reader 
is  convinced  that  all  these  societies  still  live  on.  Beyond 
his  interests  is  enduring  that  strange  world  of  obscure 
and  complacent  human  lives,  carried  through  an  exist- 
ence to  whose  meaning  and  possibilities  of  kindliness 
and  high  endeavour,  in  its  brief  passage  between 
two  "eternities,  they  seem  destined  to  be  for  ever 

In  the  "Deliverance"  the  scene  has  passed  to 
London.  The  spiritual  struggle  has  become  replaced 
by  revolt  against  the  meanness  and  monotony  and 
squalor,  the  material  ills  of  ugliness  and  poverty.  The 
problems  here  presented  of  degenerating  life  appear 
"round  and  hard  like  a  ball  of  adamant,"  and  men 
and  women  move  through  time,  helpless,  disconsolate, 
"  with  great  gaping  needs  which  they  longed  to  satisfy." 
In  two  or  three  chapters  a  gaunt  and  desolate  picture  is 
drawn  of  the  modern  city,  the  isolation  of  its  inhabitants 
each  from  the  other,  its  confusion,  its  carelessness  of 
pain.  London  on  Sunday  afternoon  in  autumn  fog,  or 
the  cold  winds  of  spring ;  London  in  shadow ;  the 
actual  slums  with  their  outrage  on  the  senses,  and 
the  gaudy  sign  of  the  undertaker  as  the  sole  evidence 
of  the  survival  of  human  aspiration  ;  the  solitary  sufferers 
who  have  been  trampled  under  and  flung  aside,  John, 
the  waiter,  Cardinal,  burdened  with  his  jealous  wife, 
Taylor,  the  coal  porter,  working  always  in  the  dark — all 
these  in  a  few  pages  call  up  a  pageant  of  maimed  and 
broken  lives  which  remain  long  after  the  book  has  closed 
as  a  troublous  vision. 



The  picture,  indeed,  is  not  entirely  grey.  The  world 
of  which  "  no  theory  is  possible  "  is  seen  to  contain 
besides  "  children  sickening  in  cellars  "  and  "the  rain 
slowly  rotting  the  harvest,"  no  less  obvious  "  an  evening 
in  June,  the  delight  of  men  and  women  in  one  another," 
love  and  human  kindness.  Something  like  tranquillity 
is  attained  before  death  enters  as  with  a  bludgeon,  and 
suddenly  and  clumsily  makes  an  end  of  all.  There 
is  acceptance  of  life's  simple  pleasures,  gratitude  for  any 
kind  of  response  and  affection,  a  wearing  down  of  the 
harsh  fretting  of  the  enigmas  into  a  patience  which 
can  even  cherish  a  kind  of  hope.  Human  life,  here 
and  now,  with  the  age  of  belief  in  a  future  restitution 
dead,  and  the  age  of  a  satisfying  present  not  yet 
born,  appears  in  the  life  history  of  Mark  Rutherford  not 
unlike  his  own  picture  of  the  Essex  marshes.  The  land 
stretches  low  and  level  into  the  far  horizon ;  with  thick 
yellow  clay  clinging  round  the  bitter  weeds  and  dis- 
coloured yellow  grasses  ;  and  stagnant,  scum-covered 
pools  mingling  with  the  smell  of  the  earth  the  rank  odour 
of  decay.  But  there  is  a  crimson  light  in  the  west 
at  evening :  the  wind  that  blows  at  sunset  is  laden 
with  the  breath  and  salt  scents  of  the  sea ;  and  all 
the  long  night  in  the  high  heavens  wheel  and  flash  the 
unchanging  stars — the  stars  that  shone  in  Eden,  and 
will  shine  again  in  Paradise. 


The  language  of  the  famous  "Conclusion"  rises 
naturally  to  the  mind  as  the  reader  turns  over  the 
pages  of  "  Life's  Lesser  Moods."  Here,  indeed,  "  not 

241  R 


the  fruit  of  experience,  but  experience  itself,  is  the  end." 
"  With  this  sense  of  the  splendour  of  our  experience 
and  of  its  awful  brevity,  gathering  all  we  are  into  one 
desperate  effort  to  see  and  touch,  we  shall  hardly  have 
time  to  make  theories  about  the  things  we  see  and 
touch."  Walter  Pater,  afterwards  in  "  Marius," 
showed  the  practical  workings  of  a  life  thus  startled 
by  magnificence  and  the  apprehension  of  death  into  a 
"  constant  and  eager  observation."  Moving  detached 
through  field  and  forest,  or  along  the  city  ways,  the 
observer  drew  from  the  things  seen — autumn  leaves, 
the  sun  behind  the  pine-trees,  the  face  of  a  child — the 
apprehension  of  "  some  passionate  attitude  of  those 
about  us,"  and  the  "tragic  dividing  of  forces  on  their 
ways."  The  experience  is  won  from  common  things, 
in  the  appeal  which  the  labouring  world  passes  by  :  a 
sudden  revelation  of  hidden  emotion;  a  colour  that 
flares,  and  in  a  moment  fades ;  "  a  breath,  a  flame  in 
the  doorway,  a  feather  in  the  wind." 

The  attitude  of  Marius  eighteen  hundred  years  ago 
is  the  attitude  of  Mr.  Hind  to-day.  He,  too,  is  to  be 
reckoned  among  those  who  looked  on,  a  little  perplexed, 
a  little  diverted,  sometimes  sorrowful,  as  they  confront 
the  noise  of  passing  things.  Men  are  planting  and 
building,  busy  about  material  things,  eager  for  wealth, 
and  crying  for  fame,  for  the  heaping  up  of  wealth 
which  another  shall  inherit,  for  a  fame  which  is  but 
the  ripple  of  a  moment  in  the  midst  of  an  Eternal 
Silence.  Conscious  even  in  the  grey  city  of  the 
splendour  of  our  experience,  with  the  sense  also  of 
its  awful  brevity  ever  before  him,  he  sees  the  thing 
pass  like  a  panorama  in  which  the  shouting  becomes 
shrill  and  presently  dies  away,  and  all  the  gold  and 
glory  crumbles  to  a  little  dust.  Immediately,  however, 



is  the  present  experience,  directly  apprehended.  There 
resides  an  appeal  as  insistent  and  compelling  in  the 
labyrinth  of  London  as  in  the  autumn  of  dying  Rome ; 
the  setting  sun  reflected  in  the  roadside  puddle  ;  a  night 
of  rain,  a  night  of  stars  ;  high  emotion  in  meeting  and 
parting,  ten  minutes  in  a  railway  carriage,  the  sights 
of  a  street  on  a  winter  morning.  The  flame  of  outward 
life,  of  the  unchanging  beauty:  the  flame  of  inner 
passion :  the  inscrutable  mysteries  of  each  individual 
separate  soul,  knowing  its  own  bitterness,  knowing  its 
heart's  particular  joy ;  these  make  up  the  world  of  the 
wanderer,  as  he  roams  with  hungry  heart  through  Eng- 
land and  Spain  and  Italy,  and  records  impressions  of 
life's  lesser  moods — "  a  breath,  a  flame  in  the  doorway, 
a  feather  in  the  wind." 

The  attitude  of  detachment,  a  refusal  to  judge,  is 
written  on  every  page.  An  impression  is  given,  here 
and  now,  recounted  as  truthfully  as  may  be.  And  there 
each  is  left ;  standing  isolated  in  the  past,  a  picture ; 
without  any  attempt  to  co-ordinate  it  to  the  entire 
scheme  of  things,  glad  or  sorry ;  to  estimate,  to  approve, 
or  to  condemn.  The  method  is  so  un-English  that  it 
is  difficult  to  prophesy  its  development  or  popularity. 
We  write  for  edification.  We  never  rest  on  the  expe- 
rience without  demanding  its  fruit  or  teaching.  Each 
particular  incident  must  carry  thought  from  itself  to  the 
boundaries  of  things.  The  record  of  a  child  shivering 
in  the  rain  would  appear  to  us  intolerably  cold  without 
an  appeal  at  the  end  for  free  breakfasts,  or  an  impeach- 
ment of  a  society  which  can  allow  such  things  to  be. 
The  gleam  of  a  golden  sunshine  must  attest  the  good- 
ness of  God.  Thunder  and  the  bitter  frost  must  certify 
the  presence  of  evil  in  the  world.  To  stand  aside  is  to 
acknowledge  indifference.  To  accept  all  is  to  enlist 


amongst  those  who  neither  for  God  nor  for  His  enemies, 
are  "  scorned  alike  of  heaven  and  hell." 

An  actual  example  will  beat  illustrate  this  un-English 
attitude.  In  one  of  Mr.  Hind's  sketches  he  pictures 
the  "  Unemployed  "  marching  through  the  West  End 
streets.  The  dingy  red  banner,  the  meagre  figures, 
escorted  by  the  stalwart,  indifferent  policeman,  the 
rattle  of  the  collecting-boxes,  the  clang  of  many  foot- 
steps along  the  frozen  roads,  the  scornful  comment  of 
the  bystanders  are  woven  into  an  impression  of  con- 
tempt and  pity  with  an  undernote  of  fear. 

"  Later  in  the  day  I  met  them  again.  It  was  twilight 
time ;  but  the  fog  had  made  an  end  of  the  day  early 
in  the  afternoon.  Over  everything  hung  that  murky 
gloom,  over  the  procession  of  the  unemployed,  over  the 
faces  of  the  employed  who  left  their  work  to  watch. 
The  day's  tramp  was  ending;  they  were  going  east- 
wards— home — but  the  fog  was  so  dense  that  I  could 
see  only  those  who  slouched  close  by.  Somewhere  far 
in  front  the  head  of  the  procession  felt  its  way  through 
the  dim  streets  ;  somewhere  far  behind  the  tail  followed 
obediently  ;  and  out  of  the  thick  night  came  the  rattle 
of  the  coins  in  the  collecting-boxes.  A  woman  near  me 
pushed  the  box  contemptuously  away.  '  Want  work, 
do  they?'  she  cried.  'I've  been  a  week  trying  to 
get  a  man  to  mend  a  window- sash.' ' 

"  The  barrow  with  the  naphtha  lamp  passed  on.  I 
watched  the  last  straggler  of  the  London  unemployed 
disappear  into  the  fog."  There  is  no  approval.  There 
is  no  condemnation.  There  is  no  denunciation  of 
society  or  appeal  to  Charity  Organisation.  There  is 
no  effort  to  weigh  merits  or  pardon  offences.  There  is 
merely  an  extraordinarily  vivid  picture  of  an  actual 
experience,  for  a  moment  present,  in  a  moment  gone. 



The  author,  like  the  ancient  magicians,  can  reveal  the 
vision.  No  more  than  they  can  he  reveal  the  inter- 
pretation thereof. 

The  danger  of  the  method  is  sufficiently  obvious. 
Life  has  a  tendency  to  become  a  mere  variegated  pat- 
tern, pleasing  or  discordant ;  a  Persian  carpet ;  or  a 
succession  of  sense  impressions,  in  which  the  picture, 
or  any  meaning  which  the  picture  can  convey,  is  lost 
in  the  search  for  agreeable  combinations  of  curves  and 
colours.  Against  this  danger  is  here  set  the  sensitive- 
ness to  the  emotional  background,  the  conviction  that 
even  if  the  impression  be  but  for  a  moment,  that  moment 
must  represent  the  illumination  of  forces  of  eternal 
significance.  Love  and  Death,  the  passing  of  Change 
and  of  Time,  the  high  ardours  of  the  spirit,  the  ques- 
tioning ironies  of  man's  existence  and  helplessness  and 
unknown  destiny,  are  written  over  all  these  experiences 
of  life's  lesser  moods. 

So  that  the  experience  itself  is  found  to  unfold  large 
issues.  A  vision  is  given,  if  for  the  moment  only  and 
without  judgment  or  approval,  down  the  long  vistas  of 
human  life  towards  far  horizons.  A  "  Citizen  "  presents 
the  type  of  a  life  vanishing  from  England.  The  life  of 
effort,  unwearying,  narrow  toil,  acceptance  of  respon- 
sibilities, is  set  over  against  "  the  zest  for  pleasure  that 
marks  these  days,  the  refusal  to  accept  responsibilities, 
the  petulant  protest  against  irksome  tasks."  A  com- 
panion picture  is  that  of  a  woman  pursuing  always 
"  The  Way,"  with  "  the  glow  of  spiritual  awakening 
and  expansion  that  came  when  the  particular  duties  of 
her  life  were  fulfilled,  and  she  could  invite  the  whisper 
of  the  mysteries."  There  are  visions  of  the  "Time  of 
Buttercups,"  with  children  dancing  in  the  sunshine ;  of 
the  death  of  a  child  of  genius,  a  cripple,  born  in  a 



humble  peasant  home ;  of  the  fires  of  an  unforgettable 
sorrow  luminous  after  nineteen  years.  There  is  much 
of  London,  its  vastness,  its  desolation  ;  of  its  sombre 
magnificence ;  of  its  callousness  and  its  charity,  the 
emanations  of  its  million  lives,  the  problem  of  its 
present  and  its  incalculable  future ;  of  "  her  loneli- 
ness," "her  littleness,"  "her  magic,'*  "her  terror," 
"  her  silence."  And  at  the  end  the  scene  shifts  into 
the  South,  Spain  and  Italy,  the  little  queer  incidents  of 
travel,  the  conflict  of  diverse  civilisations ;  and  the  living, 
blinking,  blear-eyed,  or  with  thoughts  of  memory  and 
of  pity,  around  the  memorials  of  the  dead. 

Everywhere  Mr.  Hind  shows  himself  particularly 
attracted  to  the  revelation  of  some  inner  springs  of 
serenity,  the  secret  of  a  life  hidden  from  the  modern 
world.  This  he  apprehends  in  the  Salvation  Army 
lasses  collecting  alms  in  the  Strand,  in  the  old  priest 
upon  the  mountains,  the  monks  as  he  sees  them  in  his 
garden,  the  poor  who  acquiesce  and  are  content.  The 
apprehension  of  the  permanent  in  the  transitory,  the 
Divine  unclouded  by  the  "little  smoke  "  of  men's  mad 
wants  and  mean  endeavours  is  the  end  of  the  story. 

"  I  had  entered  Italy  through  Genoa,"  he  concludes, 
"  her  stainless  marble  palaces  soaring  proudly  into  the 
sky.  I  left  her  by  Venice,  her  stained  marble  palaces 
shimmering  sadly  down  into  the  water.  I  had  seen 
the  fireflies  all  along  the  Umbrian  valley,  that  candle 
flickering  in  the  dark  church  of  the  Frari,  and  Man- 
tegna's  last  picture,  on  which  he  had  inscribed, 
'  Nothing  but  the  Divine  endures ;  the  rest  is  smoke,'  " 
The  vision  was  complete. 




"  The  Sonnets  of  the  Wingless  Hours,"  that  tragic 
sequence  of  bewilderment  and  pain,  have  now  been 
revealed  as  born  of  the  intimate  experience  of  life's 
sorrows.  The  protest  and  perplexity  everywhere  pre- 
sent in  them  drives  home  under  the  force  of  this 
knowledge,  with  a  renewed  appeal.  Mr.  William  Sharp, 
in  his  preface  to  the  Canterbury  edition  of  Mr.  Lee 
Hamilton's  poems,  has  taken  the  world  into  the  secret 
of  the  laboratory  in  which  were  fused  these  shining 
jewels.  The  author — half-brother  to  "VernonLee" — 
at  the  beginning  seemed  to  have  all  life  before  him  in 
most  favoured  circumstance.  In  the  midst  of  his  work 
as  diplomatist  he  was  suddenly  seized  with  that 
dreadful  disease  from  which  Heine  suffered  years  of 
martyrdom.  "From  the  first  definite  collapse  in  1874 
all  hope  was  practically  abandoned."  He  lay  in  a 
semi-paralysed  condition  through  the  months  and  years 
of  agony.  "For  a  long  period  suffering  was  too  acute 
to  enable  him  to  be  read  to ;  conversations,  messages, 
letters,  had  to  be  condensed  into  a  few  essential  words." 
So  passed  twenty  of  the  best  years  of  manhood  "  in  the 
posture  of  the  grave,"  years  he  compares  to  the  old 
torture  of  prisons  whose  walls  steadily  closed  in  upon 
their  victims,  a  little  nearer  every  day.  Pity  itself  can 
only  stand  silent  before  such  a  tragedy. 

And  from  this  tragedy  were  born  the  "  Sonnets  of  the 
Wingless  Hours."  Nowhere  is  there  weak  complaint ; 
nor  any  hope  for  a  future  which  will  vindicate  the 
purpose  of  the  punishment,  and  provide  adequate  com- 
pensation for  the  ruin  of  a  lifetime.  Charon  now 
sleeps,  asserts  the  author,  in  the  rushes  by  the  deserted 



shore,  and  no  souls  demand  the  services  of  the  ferry  of 
the  underworld.  Heine,  from  his  mattress-prison,  like 
some  old  heathen  defying  his  tormenters,  went  down 
into  his  grave  hurling  mockery  and  imprecation  at  the 
God  whose  irony  had  overwhelmed  him.  But  here 
even  the  consolation  of  defiance  is  denied.  For  the 
gods  themselves  have  vanished  into  vapour,  and  the 
walls  of  Heaven  crumbled  into  dust.  Henley  deepened 
the  poignancy  of  his  hospital  rhymes  by  deliberate 
roughness  and  jagged  edges,  telling  of  sudden  agonies ; 
and  by  the  attitude,  as  of  a  startled  child,  towards  all 
the  apparatus  of  pain.  But  in  the  sonnet  which 
demands  more  than  any  other  medium  perfection  of 
form,  this  method  is  impossible.  The  very  smoothness 
and  simplicity  of  the  language  of  this  sequence  of 
suffering  deepens  the  sense  of  sorrow  and  tears.  His 
muse  has  brought  him 

"  A  branch  of  dead  sea  fruit,  not  bay, 
Plucked  by  the  bitter  waters  of  the  soul." 

Sometimes  "bitterer  is  the  cup  than  can  be  told,"  and 
the  only  hope  is  for  the  quick  coming  of  "  death's 
unstarred  and  hospitable  night."  Sometimes  a  sudden 
passion  of  regret  for  a  life  thus  wasted  catches  him  by 
the  throat : 

"And  now  my  manhood  goes  where  goes  the  song 
Of  captive  birds,  the  cry  of  crippled  things ; 
It  goes  where  goes  the  day  that  unused  dies." 

But  for  the  most  part  there  is  patience  and  endurance, 
gratitude  for  the  little  golden  cup  of  "  Poesy's  wine  of 
gold,"  as  the  sufferer  watches  the  years  go  one  by 
one  in 

"  A  garden  where  I  lie  beyond  the  flowers, 
And  where  the  snails  outrace  the  creeping  sun." 



These  fruits  of  the  wingless  hours,  the  children  of 
endurance  and  pain,  have  the  intimacy  and  distinction 
which  should  give  them  permanence  in  literature. 
There  are,  indeed,  flaws;  hardly  a  sonnet  is  quite 
perfect ;  and  flaws  so  obvious  that  one  could  mark,  as  it 
were,  with  a  pencil,  the  weak  line  or,  in  most  cases,  the 
single  word  which  mars  the  perfection  of  the  whole. 
But  there  is  a  splendour  of  style  and  thought  charged 
with  an  emotion  sometimes  passionate,  always  sincere, 
which  lift  these  sonnets  from  the  ranks  of  the  ephemeral, 
and  justify  comparison  even  with  the  greatest. 

Two  qualities  in  particular  they  possess.  The  first  is 
the  very  sharp-cut  impression  of  beauty  of  form  and 
colour.  As  all  things  stand  clear  in  a  storm -swept 
atmosphere,  so  in  the  heightened  sensitiveness  of  this 
life  of  suffering  Nature  has  become  charged  with  & 
shining  brightness  unheeded  in  the  common  ways  of 
men.  The  verse  throbs  with  the  colour  contrasts  of 
Italy,  Siena  with  its  dizzy  belfry  stabbing  the  fiery  air ; 
evening  in  Tuscany ;  the  rich,  hot  scent  of  "  old  fir 
forests  heated  by  the  sun  "  ;  and  all  the  magic  of  an 
enchanted  land. 

Such  a  sonnet  as  "  Twilight " — containing,  indeed, 
two  obvious  weak  lines — abides  in  the  memory  for  a 
particular  luminous  atmosphere,  for  a  moment  harmoni- 
ous with  a  mood  in  which  sorrow  itself  has  become 

"  A  sudden  pang  contracts  the  heart  of  Day, 
As  fades  the  glory  of  the  sunken  sun. 
The  bats  replace  the  swallows  one  by  one ; 
The  cries  of  playing  children  die  away. 

Like  one  in  pain,  a  bell  begins  to  sway ; 
A  few  white  oxen,  from  their  labour  done, 
Pass  ghostly  through  the  dusk ;  the  crone  that  spun 

Beside  her  door,  turns  in,  and  all  grows  grey. 


And  still  I  lie,  as  I  all  day  have  lain, 

Here  in  this  garden,  thinking  of  the  time 
Before  the  years  of  helplessness  and  pain  ; 

Or  playing  with  the  fringes  of  a  rhyme, 
Until  the  yellow  moon,  amid  her  train 
Of  throbbing  stars,  appears  o'er  yonder  lime." 

The  greater  poems  are  those  in  which  these  outward 
visions  are  used  to  create  an  imagery  conveying  thought 
charged  with  human  emotion.  The  appeal  of  a  personal 
suffering  passes  into  a  universal  cry.  The  sadness  is 
in  the  April  air  when  a  "breeze  from  Death's  great 
wings  Shakes  down  the  blossoms  that  the  fruit  trees 
bear."  The  note  of  sorrow  is  heard,  which  runs  through 
all  the  music  of  the  world.  There  are  poems  of  most 
delightful,  child-like  fancy,  and  a  whole  series  of 
imaginary  experience  of  historical  incident.  But  the 
sonnets  which  stand  out  with  a  strength  of  emotional 
power  are  those  translating  the  individual  experience 
into  the  human  cry.  The  eternal  subjects  of  loveliness 
and  longing,  time  hurrying  into  nothingness  the  tran- 
sitory generations,  the  sadness  of  the  memory  of  all 
vanished  joy,  the  great  dreams  and  desires  of  a  race 
which  passes  from  essaying  the  walls  of  Heaven  to  the 
silence  of  a  little  grave — these  are  interpreted  each  in 
terms  of  some  visual  picture.  Such  are  the  sonnets 
that  already  have  become  famous.  In  "  Sunken  Gold" 
long  lost  hopes  are  seen  lying  as  on  some  reefy  shelf, 
"  the  gleam  of  irrecoverable  gold  "  in  the  twilight  of  the 
dim  sea  forests.  All  Souls'  Day  in  the  wintry  evening 
mingles  the  memory  of  the  multitudes  of  the  forgotten 
dead  with  the  figure  of  the  sower,  "  grey  and  lone"  in 
the  autumn  fields.  And  the  sonnets  entitled  "  The 
Wreck  of  Heaven  "  unfold  a  majestic  vision  of  the  ruin 



of  Paradise  and  its  battlements  and  towers,  with  an 
echo  of  the  closing  music  of  the  Gdtterddmmerung  in 
its  mingled  exultation  and  despair. 

"  Ay,  ay,  the  gates  of  pearl  are  crumbling  fast ; 
The  walls  of  beryl  topple  stone  by  stone ; 
The  throngs  of  souls  in  white  and  gold  are  gone ; 
The  jasper  pillars  lie  where  they  were  cast. 

The  roofless  halls  of  gold  are  dumb  and  vast ; 

The  courts  of  jacinth  are  for  ever  lone ; 

Through  shattered  chrysolite  the  blind  winds  moan, 
And  topaz  moulders  to  the  earth  at  last." 

Behind  this  vision  of  the  destruction  of  the  most 
wonderful  dream  which  has  ever  comforted  the  hearts  of 
men,  there  stands  the  earth  and  its  realities ;  and  man, 
uncheered  by  hope  of  a  future  glory,  but  enduring  with 
the  old  brave  patience  all  the  accidents  of  time,  flinging 
the  grain  into  the  furrow  in  hope  of  another  harvest. 

All  admirers  of  the  "Wingless  Hours"  must  re- 
joice at  the  wonderful  thing  which  came  at  last  to 
their  creator.  "  After  twenty-one  years  of  this  pro- 
longed half-life,  the  miraculous  happened.  The  disease 
commenced  to  wane.  The  invalid  arose  from  a  bed  to  a 
new  life ;  thereafter,  recovery  to  health  became 
complete."  He  travelled;  love  came  to  him;  the  note 
of  sadness  and  patience  in  his  verse  gave  place  to  joy 
and  a  renewed  sense  of  the  beauty  of  the  world.  In  a 
little  volume  called  "  Forest  Notes,"  in  which  he  has 
collaborated  with  his  wife,  also  a  distinguished  writer, 
he  has  given  the  first  taste  of  the  product  of  this  new 
life.  These  little  poems  lack  the  sombre  magnificence 
of  the  sonnets,  but  they  possess  a  delicacy  and  a  charm 
which  will  be  welcome  to  all  oppressed  with  the  un- 
answerable questions  which  the  sonnets  inevitably 



raise.  That  happiness  and  a  great  contentment  may 
be  given  to  the  author  of  this  little  book  for  many 
years  must  be  the  hope  of  all  who  can  appreciate  an 
indomitable  courage  and  suffering  heroically  borne. 
That  this  contentment  may  be  as  fruitful  in  song  as 
the  bitter  past  must  be  the  desire  of  all  lovers  of 


Modern  poetry  is  feeling  after  the  expression,  in  varied 
form,  of  one  of  two  emotions.  The  first  is  the  ultimate 
exultation  and  triumph  of  being,  "  the  glory  of  the  sum 
of  things."  The  second  is  the  ultimate  sadness  and 
regret  of  all  that  changes,  the  "idle  tears"  of  "the 
days  that  are  no  more."  It  is  to  the  latter  class  that 
Mrs.  Marriott  Watson  belongs.  Her  work  demands 
recognition  for  its  simplicity,  pathos,  and  a  rare  gift  of 
sincerity.  The  influence  of  Henley  is  strong.  The  inevit- 
able word  is  not  indeed  so  successfully  attained.  Many  of 
these  little  detached  lyrics  leave  the  reader  with  a  sense 
of  imperfection  owing  to  some  weakness  often  in  the  last 
line  or  stanza.  But  in  many  there  is  a  haunting 
melody  and  beauty.  "I  am  weary  of  all  that  passes " 
is  the  cry  of  a  great  modern  writer ;  and  something  of 
the  pathos  of  that  passing — regret  over  the  coming  of 
age  and  the  death  of  the  flowers — at  times  poignant, 
more  often  quiet  as  the  sadness  of  a  summer  evening, 
illuminates  these  little  songs  of  loss  and  longing. 

"After  Sunset,"  the  title  of  her  latest  volume,  would 
serve  as  a  title  to  the  whole.  The  light  has  fallen,  and 
there  is  silence ;  only  the  shadows  are  creeping  over  the 
hills  and  the  signs  are  manifest  of  the  coming  night. 
The  song  of  the  blackbird  again  and  again  recurs :  "  in 



the  dusk  of  the  cold  spring  dawn,"  "  Singing  the  Song 
of  Songs  by  the  Gates  of  Dream,"  or  telling  the  oft-told 
story  of  "  dreams  and  the  dying  spring."  The  verse  is 
woven  of  the  material  of  sorrow : — "  the  poor  dead  whom 
none  rememhereth " :  Death's  black  pavilion  in  the 
Unshapen  Lands,  and  all  the  grey  flowers  in  Death's 
garden :  the  old  wind  which 

"  Goes  murmuring  still  of  unremembered  seas, 
And  cities  of  the  dead  that  men  forget." 

But  more  than  the  tragedy  of  death  it  is  the  tragedy 
of  change  which  has  here  found  expression.  There 
will  be  many  fairer  days,  but  never  again  yesterday. 
Flowers  will  again  blossom,  but  not  those  flowers 
which  have  faded.  Other  generations  will  rise  into 
exultant  life,  with  perhaps  the  days  of  summer  unending 
and  the  roses  blowing  earlier  in  those  after,  happier 
years.  But  the  generations  of  the  present  are  going  into 
silence  and  the  generations  of  the  past  have  gone. 
That  time  itself  should  triumph  over  love  and  hope  and 
endless  desire  :  that  childhood  should  vanish  and  all  its 
absorbing  interests ;  that  youth  should  be  hurried  forward 
into  age,  and  no  effort  stay  the  march  of  the  intolerable 
hours  ;  this  is  the  irony  of  life  which  makes  all  human 
experience  a  thing  so  helpless  and  piteous  and  transitory. 
"  Alas,  that  Spring  should  vanish  with  the  rose  "  might 
have  been  written  on  the  title-page  of  all  her  poems. 

"They  are  mowing  the  meadows  now,  and  the  whispering, 

Song  of  the  scythe  breathes  sweet  on  my  idle  ear, — 
Songs  of  old  Summers  dead,  and  of  this  one  dying, 

Roses  on  roses  fallen,  and  year  on  year." 

With  this   also    comes   the   almost    blinding   contrast 



between  the  renovating  powers  of  Nature  and  the 
little  life  of  man.  "  You  are  not  here,  and  yet  it 
is  the  Spring."  No  temporal  consolation  can  satisfy 
the  hunger  aroused  by  the  mute  mocking  of  such  a 

"  Youth  comes  no  more  for  ever — even  although 
The  fields  take  flower  again,  and  lilacs  blow, 
And  pointed  leaf-buds  gather  on  the  vine ; 
Even  although  the  sun  should  sail  and  shine 
Bright  as  of  old." 

Here,  indeed,  is  the  protest  which  has  rung  down  all  the 
centuries  since  that  distant  dawn  when  Moschus,  crying 
for  his  dead  friend,  found  himself  but  mocked  by  the 
mallow  and  the  parsley  and  the  renewal  of  all  the 
splendour  of  field  and  flower. 

To  the  vigorous  citizen  desirous  above  all  of  banishing 
uncomfortable  thoughts,  this  emphasis  of  the  tragedies 
of  change  will  appear  morbid  and  futile.  Outside  the 
garden  life  goes  roaring  by.  In  the  dust  and  bustle 
there  is  little  time  for  the  hauntings  of  memory  or  the 
cultivation  of  the  sorrow  of  passing  things.  "With  this 
world  Mrs.  Marriott  Watson  has  little  concern.  There 
is  a  strange  sense  of  incongruity  in  the  intrusion  of  such 
a  masterful  figure  as  Lord  Kitchener  into  her  poems.  In 
her  enchanted  land  the  vision  is  of  the  ruined  altar,  the 
deserted  home,  the  white  way  that  winds  down  the  hill, 
the  cry  of  children  that  are  gone  out  into  the  night. 

Above  all  here  is  the  cry  of  the  children.  The  songs 
of  childhood  have  an  especial  grace  and  charm.  Some 
have  the  tenderness  of  mingled  smiles  and  tears,  as  in 
the  sight  of  the  discarded  toys  and  all  the  child's  for- 
gotten world.  Some  have  the  deeper  note  of  longing  for 
the  childhood  vanished  in  the  natural  growth  to  maturity : 



the  disappearance  of  the  "  small,  down-vestured  head  "  : 
"the  innocent  eyes":  "the  sweet,  impetuous  little 
feet."  And  some  have  the  note  of  anguish  which  wails 
round  the  most  unendurable  of  all  the  outrages  of  death, 
in  the  calling  through  the  night  of  the  ruined  heart  for 
a  little  child  struck  down  by  those  merciless  hands — 

"  Leave  the  door  upon  the  latch — she  could  never  reach  it, 
You  would  hear  her  crying,  crying  there  till  break  of  day, 
Out  on  the  cold  moor  'mid  the  snows  that  bleach  it, 
Weeping  as  once  in  the  long  years  past  away." 

Such  is  the  garden  "after  sunset."  The  night  and  its 
shadows  have  not  yet  come.  The  sadness  is  tempered  by 
the  charm  of  the  dying  day.  Tenderness  and  compassion 
walk  more  blithely  than  in  the  glare  of  the  afternoon. 
And  all  the  magic  of  the  evening  gathers  round  that 
land  of  longing  and  tears,  which  stretches  its  horizon 
into  far  distances  when  once  the  sun  has  dropped  behind 
the  hills. 



11  For  the  world  is  not  to  be  won  by  anything  except  on  those 
conditions  with  which  the  Kingdom  of  Heaven  first  came. 
Vbhat  conquers  must  have  those  wJio  devote  themselves  to  it: 
who  prefer  it  to  all  other  things :  who  are  proud  to  suffer  for 
it :  who  can  bear  anything  so  that  it  goes  forward." 

— R.  W.  CHURCH. 


AT  the  beginning  of  the  twentieth  century  two 
attempts  on  a  large  scale  have  been  made  to 
estimate  the  religion  of  London.  The  results  have  in 
the  main  confirmed  the  statements  of  those  who  assert 
that  the  condition  of  these  familiar,  crowded  populations 
is  in  reality  as  obscure  as  that  of  China  or  Mexico.  The 
one  was  statistical,  the  other  impressionist.  Facts 
limited  to  bare  numbers  were  given  by  the  Daily  News 
census.  A  vast  complexity  of  conversations,  testimonies, 
experiences  was  provided  by  Mr.  Booth's  seven  volumes. 
It  is  to  the  student  of  opinion  and  social  change  that 
the  first  of  these — the  numbering  of  the  religions  of 
London — will  prove  of  lasting  value.  Only  advertise- 
ment, cynicism,  or  vulgar  curiosity  benefits  from  the 
announcement  that  Mr.  A's  church  (heralding  itself  as 
exercising  enormous  spiritual  influence)  gathers  four 
hundred  worshippers  every  Sunday,  or  that  Mr.  B's 
church  (proclaiming  a  similar  success)  gathers  forty. 
The  tabulated  results  of  the  Census  have  been  used  as 
the  basis  for  crude  and  ill-informed  deductions.  They 
will  form  the  material  in  the  future  for  the  demonstra- 
tion of  all  manner  of  preconceived  ideas.  But  this 
is  the  common  fate  of  statistic.  Let  the  figures  be 
taken  for  what  they  profess  to  be — the  record  of  the 
numbers  of  attendance,  men,  women,  and  children,  at 
morning  and  evening  service  on  certain  Sundays  in  the 
years  1902-3  in  every  public  religious  edifice  in  London. 
No  claim  is  made  that  these  figures  give  adequate  basis 



for  comparison  of  the  spiritual  influence  of  different 
individual  churches  or  of  the  aggregate  of  organised 
religions.  One  church,  in  a  poor  district,  attracts  a 
congregation  by  a  distribution  of  cocoa  and  slabs  of 
bread  at  the  commencement  or  the  conclusion  of  the 
service.  Another,  in  a  comfortable  suburb,  fills  its  pews 
with  an  audience  to  whom  church-going  is  the  custom 
and  the  fashion,  a  display  of  smart  clothing,  the  occupa- 
tion of  a  seat  hired  by  the  year,  or  a  method  of  killing 
the  boredom  of  an  idle  Sunday.  A  third,  hidden  in  a 
back  street,  gathers  together  thirty  or  forty  poor  men  and 
women  who  support  the  expenses  with  their  scanty 
earnings,  and  meet  for  edification  or  for  worship  outside 
the  sphere  of  both  fashion  and  material  benefit.  There 
is  no  common  denominator  of  religious  aspiration  which 
will  measure  three  such  congregations  as  these ;  but  in 
dispassionate  estimate  of  figures  they  are  of  necessity 
weighed  together  as  if  each  individual  attendance  were 
of  similar  account. 

Yet  the  figures  themselves  are  of  quite  extraordinary 
interest  and  value — an  interest  and  value  which  will 
increase  as  the  memories  of  London  in  1908  fade  into  an 
almost  fabulous  past.  They  have  stamped  in  permanent 
form  certain  facts  of  the  spiritual  energies  of  this  strange 
and  perplexing  city  in  this  particular  period  of  change. 
Corrected  by  personal  knowledge,  and  retranslated  from 
their  bloodless  skeleton  of  information  into  terms  of 
human  effort,  tenacity,  and  aspiration,  they  become 
charged  with  a  romance  and  significance  paralleled  by 
few  other  such  tables  of  numbers  and  names. 

Mr.  Charles  Booth's  investigation  has  not  been 
received  with  so  universal  an  acceptance.  Comments, 
often  angry,  have  been  evoked  by  the  somewhat  sweeping 
strictures  of  his  investigators.  The  personal  impression 



of  curate  or  minister  seems  often  to  have  formed  the 
main  basis  of  judgment.  Pretentiousness,  noisiness, 
vulgarity,  produce  emphatic  condemnation  ;  the  critics 
would  have  done  well  to  remember  that  pretentiousness, 
noisiness  and  vulgarity  have  often  been  associated  with 
a  real  and  vigorous  religion.  Mr.  Booth  deliberately  (I 
am  inclined  to  think,  rightly)  rejected  the  statistical 
method  as  misleading  in  the  estimation  of  something  so 
elusive  and  intangible  as  spiritual  influence.  But  as  a 
corrective  to  many  of  his  statements  the  Census  figures 
are  quite  invaluable.  No  serious  student  can  neglect 
either  the  one  or  the  other.  Read  first  the  seven 
volumes  of  Mr.  Booth  ;  examine  and  analyse  the  figures 
of  this  Census ;  make  yourself  personally  familiar  with  at 
least  a  few  selected  districts  of  different  types — the 
wealthy,  the  suburban,  the  artisan,  the  poor :  you  will 
then  be  in  a  position  to  offer  at  least  some  tentative 
suggestions  towards  an  estimate  of  the  religious  condition 
of  this  great  congeries  of  cities  which  we  term  London. 

In  the  commencement  of  examination  it  is  desirable 
to  attempt  an  estimate  of  the  characteristic  classes  of 
the  people  of  the  city.  We  may  omit  the  specialised 
class  of  the  West  End  :  that  particular  "  golden  "  area 
in  which  is  condensed  the  product  of  all  the  spoil  of 
Empire.  Religion  has  never  been  the  serious  concern  of 
the  wealthy.  They  play  with  it  as  they  play  with  life. 
They  contribute  the  funds  of  impersonal  charities,  they 
discuss  the  sufferings  of  the  poor,  they  patronise  all  creeds 
offering  a  new  sensation — Christian  Science,  ^Esthetic 
Catholicism,  Spiritualism,  Revivalism.  It  is  sincere  in  so 
far  as  any  sincerity  in  such  a  life  is  possible.  But  it  in 



no  way  essentially  differs  from  the  homage  which  this 
class  is  always  prepared  to  pay  to  the  accepted  gods  of  a 
nation.  The  real  problem  of  the  future  of  religion  in 
the  city  is  being  fought  out  amongst  those  classes 
which  make  up  the  grey  matrix  of  labour  of  which  that 
city  is  composed. 

For  purposes  of  investigation  this  solid  background  of 
the  city's  energies  can  be  split  into  four  main  divisions. 
First  we  may  note  the  "  poor  "  in  the  proper  sense  of 
the  term ;  those,  in  Sir  Henry  Campbell-Bannerman's 
now  famous  phrase,  living  "on  the  verge  of  hunger"  if 
not  "on  the  verge  of  starvation."  These  are  the 
subjects  of  Messrs.  Booth  and  Rowntree's  dismal 
statistics.  They  are  a  class  which  only  emerges  above 
the  political  horizon  when  some  energetic  statesman  is 
composing  a  moving  peroration  or  essaying  a  new 
policy.  They  are  the  forlorn  multitude  of  those  who 
have  failed.  They  are  most  numerous  in  South  and 
East  London,  forming  great  wedges  and  masses  along 
the  riverside,  and  collecting  in  scattered  pools  or  isolated 
streets  in  all  the  other  boroughs.  They  form  the  ready 
prey  of  church  and  mission.  Each  particular  district  in 
which  they  herd  is  swarming  with  rival  agencies  essaying 
their  bodily  sustenance  and  the  salvation  of  their  souls. 
A  continuous  vast  river  of  charitable  help  pours  through 
the  channels  of  these  missions  into  every  corner  and 
crevice  of  their  homes.  Bread,  clothing,  boots,  vegetable 
soup,  grocery  tickets,  monetary  assistance,  fall  some- 
times, like  the  rain  of  heaven,  upon  the  just  and  unjust, 
sometimes  only  upon  those  who  are  willing  to  make  a 
decent  return  in  attendance  at  public  worship  or  mothers' 
meetings.  This  source  of  supply  is  eked  out  in  most 
cases  with  casual  labour  or  the  more  desolating  forms  of 
unskilled  employment,  with  outdoor  relief,  with  the  pro- 



ducts  of  home  industries,  the  earnings  of  school  children, 
and  the  munificent  wage  earned  by  the  free  unorganised 
labour  of  women.  The  children  are  innumerable.  The 
death  rate  of  infants  is  high,  but  a  sufficient  number  sur- 
vive to  ensure  the  transmission  of  the  rickety  type, 
stunted  physique  and  fragile  or  diseased  constitution,  to 
the  generations  of  the  future.  The  individuals  rise  or 
fall.  The  class  remains,  a  stagnant  pool  of  low-grade 
life  which  is  slowly  extending  its  borders,  and  swelling 
its  multitudes  to  a  bulk  which  finally  will  compel  atten- 
tion to  the  menace  of  its  futility. 

The  second  class  makes  up  the  matrix  of  which  the 
great  mass  of  working  London  is  composed.  It  is  the 
class  of  decent  working  men,  from  the  highly  paid  artisan 
to  the  better  paid  labourer.  Here  is  the  "poor"  as  it 
appears  to  the  rich,  lumping  into  one  common  category 
all  below  the  status  of  retail  tradesmen.  It  more  than 
fills  the  block  dwellings  and  cottages  in  which  it  is 
housed,  and  it  is  continually  flowing  over  through  leaks  and 
gaps  into  the  suburbs  which  surround  it  on  all  sides,  to 
the  infinite  disgust  of  the  original  inhabitants  of  these 
desirable  regions.  It  works  for  the  most  part  away  from 
its  residence,  and  spends  much  of  its  leisure  in  journeys 
to  and  fro.  It  is  on  the  whole  contented  with  its  life. 
But  its  intel  igence  and  vitality  seem  partially  sapped  by 
its  crowded  city  existence,  and  it  manifests  none  of  the 
somewhat  aggressive  social  and  political  vigour  which  is 
characteristic  of  a  similar  class  in  other  cities  of  England. 
At  present  it  is  largely  country  bred.  It  still  shows 
traces  of  the  open  air  and  the  life  of  the  fields.  But 
each  year  the  rural  elements  diminish,  the  urban 
increase.  It  is  a  race  passing  in  bulk  through  the 
greatest  change  in  the  life  of  humanity,  the  change  in 
which  nature  vanishes  from  the  horizon  and  is  replaced 



by  the  perpetual  presence  of  man.  It  represents  at  the 
present  a  stage  in  this  transition,  with  stability,  acquies- 
cence, and  the  peculiar  city  characteristics  not  yet  fully 

The  third  class  is  one  often  overlooked,  whose  neglect 
has  originated  some  of  the  more  absurd  generalisations 
upon  the  life  of  the  poor.  In  all  the  boroughs,  poor  as 
well  as  rich,  lining  all  the  main  roads  and  many  of  the 
side  streets  is  the  class  of  tradesmen  who  minister  to  the 
needs  of  the  vast  populations  which  are  hidden  behind. 
These  form  a  prosperous  bourgeois  class,  possessing  con- 
siderable vigour  and  enterprise,  and  very  sharply  divided 
in  interest  and  outlook  from  the  poor  and  the  artisan 
who  do  business  with  them.  In  the  poorest  boroughs 
they  form  an  aristocracy  of  wealth.  In  the  wealthier 
boroughs  they  are  less  conspicuous,  aud  there  are  social 
grades  from  which  they  are  excluded.  But  they  are 
numerous  in  all,  and  in  all  offer  a  very  marked  contribu- 
tion to  the  religious  life  of  London. 

Lastly,  in  the  outlying  districts  we  find  the  suburban 
dweller,  forming,  on  the  hills  principally  of  the  South 
and  the  North,  a  class  of  quite  peculiar  and  specialised 
life  and  characteristics.  He  is  a  product  of  those 
economic  conditions  which  have  made  London  the 
banking  centre  and  clearing-house  of  the  world.  He  is 
a  dependant  of  the  City,  to  which  he  journeys  every 
morning.  He  leads  an  entirely  sedentary  existence, 
writing  other  men's  letters,  adding  other  men's  accounts, 
each  a  cog  or  link  in  the  machinery  of  other  men's  ideas- 
The  energy  pent  up  in  this  remarkable  toil  is  reserved 
for  the  hours  of  freedom.  There  is  active  home  life, 
strong  family  affection,  little  gardens  and  ornamented 
villas,  ambition  for  the  children.  A  certain  artificiality 
distinguishes  such  an  existence,  a  divorce  from  reality 



which  only  intrudes  at  intervals  of  love  or  suffering  or 
death.  Vigour  may  be  more  conspicuous  than  breadth 
of  outlook  or  intellectual  agility,  and  there  are  often  set 
up  quite  astonishing  standards  of  "respectability"  in 
politics  and  religion.  But  there  are  compensating  ele- 
ments in  a  widespread  material  comfort,  enjoyment  of 
simple  pleasures,  and  a  very  real  and  active  religious  life, 
probably  stronger  here  than  in  any  other  class  of  the 
community.  It  is  here  that  the  churches  and  chapels 
are  crowded,  that  their  activities  blossom  out  on  week- 
days into  mutual  improvement  associations,  debating 
clubs,  and  innocuous  amusement.  The  orthodox  religions 
receive  a  willing  adherence  which  has  resisted  success- 
fully all  the  disintegrating  forces  of  changes  in  thought 
and  environment.  This  is  the  class  beyond  all  others 
where  the  particular  characteristics  find  expression  in  the 
edifices  it  has  reared  for  its  worship  and  the  nature  of 
the  services  it  generously  maintains  within  them. 

Let  us  see  what  light  the  Religious  Census  will 
throw  upon  the  spiritual  condition  of  this  world  of 
working  humanity.  Although  it  would  be  quite  inac- 
curate to  judge  the  influences  exercised  from  particular 
churches  by  the  simple  comparison  of  the  numbers  of 
worshippers ;  and  although,  undoubtedly,  a  religious 
enthusiasm  focussed  in  the  Sunday  gatherings  diffuses 
through  great  numbers  who  never  or  rarely  are  actually 
present ;  yet  on  the  whole  we  may  say  that  the 
organised  religious  and  ethical  bodies  stand  practically 
for  the  active  spiritual  enterprise  of  London.  Once  I 
had  expected  it  otherwise — thinking  that  the  widespread 
break-up  of  faith  and  the  influence  of  destructive 
criticism  would  have  created  a  large  class  of  persons 
unable  conscientiously  to  attach  themselves  to  church 
or  chapel,  but  eager  for  ethical  progress  and  the  asser- 



tion  of  the  supremacy  of  the  things  of  the  spirit.  But 
experience  has  failed  to  discover  any  number  of  such 
individuals.  Many,  indeed,  pass  through  a  stage  in 
which  all  definite  religions  are  judged  and  condemned 
as  insincere  or  untrue.  But  either  interest  in  all 
ultimate  questions  vanishes,  or  the  inquirer  in  time 
finds  himself  drawn  to  some  church  or  congregation. 
Even  those  who  are  unable  to  make  any  positive 
spiritual  affirmation  may  unite  in  some  positivist 
society  or  ethical  fellowship.  The  influence  of  such 
bodies,  indeed,  containing  some  of  the  most  sincere  and 
devoted  of  men  and  women,  is  altogether  underestimated 
by  the  meagre  numbers  of  attendance.  Outside  there 
is  much  vague  social  discontent,  and  often  a  feeling  of 
bitterness  against  all  organised  religions.  But  such 
feelings,  however  praiseworthy,  are  not  in  themselves 
guarantees  of  spiritual  or  moral  energy.  The  man  who 
will  abstain  from  church-going,  and  informs  you  with 
complacency  that  his  religion  is  that  of  the  Sermon  on 
the  Mount,  is  usually  distinguished  by  little  but  an 
amiable  unwillingness  to  do  conscious  injury  to  those 
who  have  not  injured  him,  and  by  a  determination  at 
least  not  to  love  himself  less  than  his  neighbour.  As 
symbols  and  representatives  of  whatever  spiritual  life 
still  remains  in  London,  we  may  quite  confidently  limit 
our  outlook  to  the  religious  bodies  who  are  dealt  with  in 
the  Census  return. 

To  come  then  to  the  facts.  Let  us  first  consider  the 
bare  aggregate  of  numbers. 

In  the  County  area  of  London  one  man  out  of  every 
twelve,  and  one  woman  out  of  every  ten,  attends  some 
form  of  Divine  worship  each  Sunday  morning ;  and  one 
man  in  every  ten,  and  one  woman  in  every  seven,  attends 
each  Sunday  evening. 



And  if  we  may  accept  the  figures  given  by  the  super- 
intendent of  the  Census  of  38  per  cent,  making  a  double 
attendance,  we  can  lead  on  to  the  further  statement : 

In  London  one  man  out  of  every  six,  and  one  woman 
out  of  every  Jive,  attends  some  place  of  worship  at  least 
once  every  Sunday. 

I  must  confess  that  this  is  a  far  larger  proportion 
than  I  should  have  anticipated.  Living  amongst  a 
population  which  has  practically  abandoned  church- 
going,  I  had  mechanically  interpreted  my  own  experi- 
ence into  the  larger  whole.  The  twelfth  man  who  goes 
off  to  church  at  eleven  o'clock  on  Sunday  morning  had 
escaped  my  vision.  As  a  rough  estimate  I  should  have 
given  anything  from  1  to  4  per  cent,  as  the  total 
actively  Christian  population  of  labouring  London. 
One  is  grateful  to  the  Census  if  for  this  alone — the 
revelation  of  larger  numbers  of  attendance  than  one 
had  dared  to  hope — however  much  later  examination 
may  show  such  attendance  to  be  meaningless  and 

Let  us  pass  from  these  massed  aggregates  which 
mean  little  to  the  more  interesting  and  difficult  analysis 
of  classes — to  the  attempt  to  estimate  how  these  wor- 
shippers are  divided  amongst  the  main  grades  of  society. 
Here  is  the  ready  field  of  wild  deduction.  Many  critics 
knowing  dimly  that  Southwark  (say)  is  poor  and 
Chelsea  wealthy,  have  concluded  that  the  statistics  of 
the  borough  of  Southwark  show  the  statistics  of  church 
attendance  of  the  poor,  and  those  of  the  borough  of 
Chelsea  that  of  the  rich.  Some  have  thus  discovered 
a  fixed  proportion  of  church-goers  in  all  classes. 
Others  will  tell  you  confidently  of  the  demonstration 
by  such  numbers  of  the  strength  of  some  particular 
denomination  amongst  the  poor  or  the  rich.  Such 



crude  deductions  are  entirely  erroneous.  On  the  one 
hand,  a  poor  borough  may  contain  places  of  worship 
which  attract  well-to-do  worshippers  from  a  wide  area. 
Southwark,  for  example,  contains  an  Anglican  and  a 
Roman  Catholic  cathedral,  as  well  as  the  great  chapel 
made  famous  through  the  English-speaking  world  by 
the  pastorate  of  Charles  Spurgeon,  whose  enormous 
audience  of  8,625  represents  a  similar  cathedral 
gathering.  In  the  poorest  district  of  Lambeth,  again, 
is  the  great  church  presided  over  by  Mr.  F.  B.  Meyer, 
which  draws  a  well-to-do  and  intelligent  audience  from 
all  the  southern  suburbs.  And  on  the  other  hand,  such 
a  statement  altogether  neglects  the  comfortable  class  of 
tradesmen  and  the  middle  class  who  live  in  all  the 
poorer  boroughs,  and  provide  perhaps  the  most  ardent 
adherents  of  many  flourishing  religions.  Any  one  inti- 
mate with  such  a  district  will  know  that  it  is  this  class 
in  the  main  which  contributes  such  worshippers  as  the 
churches  and  chapels  are  able  to  gather  together  in 
working-class  districts.  The  places  of  worship  line  the 
main  thoroughfares.  Their  frequenters  are  respectable, 
well-dressed  men  and  women,  the  dwellers  in  those 
main  thoroughfares  and  the  better-class  squares  and 
streets  that  remain  undestroyed.  Investigate  every 
place  of  worship  down  (say)  Walworth  Road  from  the 
"  Elephant "  to  Camberwell  Green — the  heart  of  a  poor 
district.  In  all  the  varied  centres  of  religion,  whose 
buildings  are  thickly  studded  at  close  intervals,  you  will 
find  no  signs  of  obvious  poverty.  In  the  districts 
behind,  in  some  obscure  gathering  of  Primitive  Metho- 
dists or  Bible  Christians,  you  may  discover  the  class 
you  are  seeking.  But  in  all  central  South  London, 
the  district  with  which  I  am  most  intimate,  I  have 
only  seen  the  poor  in  bulk  collected  at  two  places  of 


religious  worship — Mr.  Meakin's  great  hall  in  Ber- 
mondsey,  and  St.  George's  Roman  Catholic  Cathedral 
at  Southwark — an  object-lesson  in  (amongst  other 
things)  the  wisdom  of  the  permission  of  the  late  Arch- 
bishop of  Canterbury  for  the  use  of  incense  "  for  fumi- 
gatory  purposes."  In  London  as  a  whole — apart  from 
certain  isolated  and  exceptional  instances — I  have  no 
hesitation  in  asserting  that  it  is  the  middle  classes 
which  attend  church  and  chapel,  the  working-classes 
and  the  poor  who  stay  away. 

This  can  be  illustrated  by  comparison,  not  of  the 
large  areas  of  the  boroughs,  but  of  some  definite 
working-class  area  with  some  suburban  district.  I 
have  been  at  some  pains  to  make  such  a  comparison, 
whose  figures  are  appended.  The  working-class  area 
I  have  chosen  is  a  triangular  patch  in  the  centre  of 
South  London,  bounded  by  three  great  thoroughfares. 
It  is  a  normal  crowded  district  with  which  I  am  per- 
sonally familiar,  varying  from  the  lowest  poverty  to  the 
comparative  comfort  of  skilled  industry,  and  bounded  by 
the  middle-class  shopkeepers  in  the  main  roads.  If 
anything,  it  should  be  unusually  favoured  in  its  religious 
effort,  for  it  is  the  scene  of  some  very  interesting  experi- 
ments. Several  of  the  public-school  and  Cambridge 
College  missions  are  here,  and  the  well-known  Browning 
Hall  settlement.  The  churches  are  high,  low,  and 
broad.  The  clergy  are  Tory,  Radical,  and  Socialist; 
they  include  amongst  them  borough  councillors,  guar- 
dians, and  two  of  the  best  known  Radical  parsons  of 
London.  All  types  of  Nonconformity  are  represented, 
including  a  flourishing  Baptist  and  a  flourishing 
Wesley  an  Chapel. 

To  compare  with  this  I  selected  a  suburban  district 
in  South  Dulwich  and  Forest  Hill,  which  is  as  yet 



comparatively   free   from   the    inroad   of  the   working 

The  figures  for  the  two  districts  compare  as  follows  : — 






age of 

Working-class  District  . 
Suburban  District  . 






The  figures  become  more  striking,  perhaps,  if  areas 
of  equal  population  are  compared.  The  single  parish 
of  St.  Mary  Magdalene,  Old  Kent  Road,  contains  almost 
as  large  a  population  as  five  of  the  suburban  parishes. 
But  the  church  attendances  are  different. 






age of 

St.  Mary's,  Walworth    . 






Five       Dulwioh       and 

Sydenham    Parishes 






When  it  is  further  remembered  that  the  suburban 
district  undoubtedly  also  supplies  worshippers  to  a 
number  of  churches  and  chapels  outside  its  borders, 
and  that  by  scraping  off  a  layer  of  middle-class  houses 
from  the  main  streets  of  Walworth  you  would  probably 
diminish  your  church  attendance  by  at  least  two-thirds' 
I  think  the  illustration  is  striking  of  the  difference  in 



habits  of  church  attendance  between  the  prosperous  and 
the  poor. 

An  isolated  example  such  as  this  is  indeed  not  con- 
clusive. But  I  would  ask  any  critic  still  doubtful  to 
work  out  similar  calculations  from  the  Census  returns. 
Let  him  compare  Bermondsey  with  Lewisham,  inner 
with  outer  Lambeth,  Deptford  with  Blackheath — he 
will  find  similar  results.  The  results  were,  indeed,  well 
known  to  those  familiar  with  the  life  of  the  poor,  and 
are  continually  asserted  in  Mr.  Booth's  investigation. 
The  new  city  race  of  workers  is  developing  apart 
from  the  influences  of  religion.  The  spiritual  world 
has  vanished  from  their  vision.  The  curtain  of 
their  horizon  has  descended  round  the  life  of  toil 
which  constitutes  their  immediate  universe.  Here  and 
there,  widely  scattered,  you  may  find  a  successful 
religious  community  of  the  poor;  but  these  are  mere 
isolated  instances  in  an  area  of  grey  indifference. 
The  energy,  determination,  and  devotion  put  forth  by 
adherents  of  all  the  religious  bodies  to  convert  some 
portion  of  this  vast  multitude,  is  one  of  the  most  notice- 
able displays  of  self-sacrificing  effort  to  be  found  in 
modern  England.  Every  expedient  is  essayed,  from 
the  guilds  and  fraternities,  processions  and  banners  of 
"  advanced  "  churches  to  the  antics  of  "  Jumping  Jack" 
or  "  Salvation  Joe  "  of  a  different  school  of  Christianity. 
The  wealthier  members  of  the  varied  religions  generously 
pour  subscriptions  and  material  gifts  for  the  same 
arduous  task.  The  best  of  the  younger  members  of 
the  Church  of  England  undertake  work  amongst  the 
poor,  and  certainly  the  standard  of  the  clergy  in  the 
central  districts  where  the  churches  are  empty  need 
not  fear  comparison  with  the  standard  in  the  outlying 
suburbs  where  the  churches  are  crammed.  If  the 



works  done  in  London  to-day,  one  is  inclined  to  assert, 
had  been  done  in  Sodom  and  Gomorrah,  they  would 
have  repented  in  sackcloth  and  ashes.  To  all  this 
the  great  unknown  multitude  remains  unresponsive. 
So  far  as  a  conscious  spiritual  life  is  concerned  the 
results  seem  almost  negligible.  The  key  to  the  heart 
of  the  City  has  not  yet  been  found.  Its  interminable 
streets  and  desert  of  crowded  dwellings  wait  for  some 
outpouring  of  the  spirit  as  yet  withholden.  Against  its 
amiable  acquiescence  and  passive  resistance  to  the 
exhortations,  threatenings,  and  promises  of  the 
churches  all  these  energies  beat  themselves  in  vain. 
The  indifference  to  religion  is,  indeed,  accompanied  by 
indifference  to  all  intellectual  effort,  to  political  and 
social  action,  to  the  advancement  of  any  ideal  cause. 
"  It  was  supposed,"  is  one  verdict,  "  that  as  men  would 
not  come  to  church  they  would  go  to  the  hall  of  science. 
Not  a  bit  of  it.  Of  the  two  they  would  prefer  the 
church,  but  what  they  really  want  is  to  be  left  alone." 
"  The  fact  is,"  said  a  lady  to  a  friend  of  mine  who  was 
canvassing  for  a  vote,  "  me  and  my  'usben'  don't  take 
no  interest  in  any  think." 

Amongst  the  third  class  of  residents — the  middle 
classes,  stretching  in  a  kind  of  skeleton  framework 
through  the  cities  of  labour,  so  strangely  members  of 
this  unique  community,  yet  alien  from  all  its  hopes 
and  desires — we  can  recognise  a  strong  and  vigorous 
religious  life.  It  develops  mainly  an  individualistic 
gospel ;  stern ;  a  doctrine  that  every  man  should  help 
himself,  and  that  if  he  fails  it  is  his  own  fault.  It 
recognises  an  "old-fashioned"  teaching — heaven  and 
hell  as  realities,  unaffected  by  the  destructive  influences 
of  modern  ideas.  Here,  if  anywhere,  is  the  survival  in 
London  of  the  Puritan  element,  the  distrust  of  worldly 



pleasures,  the  looking  forward  to  the  salvation  of  the 
elect,  escaping,  though  hardly,  from  a  world  destined 
for  everlasting  fire.  This  population  fills  the  great 
Nonconformist  tabernacles  which  occupy  so  conspicuous 
a  position  in  the  religious  life  of  London.  It  is 
interesting  to  see  how  its  existence  causes  a  reversal 
of  the  standards  recognised  elsewhere — clergymen,  for 
example,  repeatedly  explaining  to  Mr.  Booth  that  their 
wealthy  people  were  "too  well  off"  for  the  Church  of 
England,  or  that  the  edifice  is  "placed  in  a  wealthier 
part  among  people  who  are  Dissenters  or  nothing." 
"  These  churches,"  is  the  verdict  on  one  district  and 
one  religious  body — it  may  be  extended  to  all — "are 
mainly  supported  by  the  lower  middle  class ;  with  the 
working  class  their  difficulties  begin,  and  in  the  streets 
that  show  a  really  poor  element  all  religious  efforts  fail, 
here  as  elsewhere."  The  summary  of  a  particularly 
successful  Baptist  tabernacle  in  Camberwell  is  written 
large  over  the  whole  of  London.  "  Few  are  rich,  for 
the  rich  have  left  the  neighbourhood ;  none  are  poor, 
for  the  poor  do  not  come,  and  a  mission  started  for  their 
sake  has  not  been  a  success.  But  as  a  middle-class 
organisation  the  church  is  the  centre  of  a  vigorous 
congregational  life."  In  these  districts  at  least,  Non- 
conformists form  the  aristocracy,  and  the  Church  and 
the  Roman  Catholics  work  with  a  lower  social  stratum. 
In  our  fourth  class — the  residents  of  the  suburbs — we 
have  perhaps  the  largest  proportion  of  church  atten- 
dance in  any  district  in  London.  Practically  the  whole 
population  attends  religious  service  on  Sunday.  Places 
of  all  religions  are  crowded  with  overflowing  congrega- 
tions. The  disintegrating  influences  which  have  swept 
over  Society  and  the  West  have  here  as  yet  scarcely 
penetrated.  Sunday  amusement  is  still  sternly  dis- 

273  T 


couraged.  Sunday  is  made  as  unpleasant  a  day  as  is 
possible  for  the  ungodly  who  refuse  to  recognise  the 
obligations  of  worship.  The  record  everywhere  is  of 
activity  and  enterprise.  Munificent  sums  have  been 
spent  on  new  buildings  and  endowments.  Church 
attendance  is  the  fashion,  pews  are  rented  for  families  ; 
the  chief  difficulty  is  to  provide  accommodation  for  the 
increasing  demands.  Adjacent  to  each  other,  indeed, 
we  have  here  two  populations,  each  inhabiting  an 
entirely  separate  universe.  In  the  centre  the  minister 
may  talk  with  the  tongue  of  man  and  angel,  and  the 
church  remains  deserted.  In  the  suburbs  he  may  roll 
out  commonplace  platitudes,  and  the  church  is  crammed. 
"A  certain  class  will  come  to  church,"  is  the  summary 
of  one  minister,  "  provided  you  do  not  positively  repel 
them ;  while  another  class  cannot  be  induced  to  come 
at  all."  In  the  suburbs  we  hear  of  districts  in  which 
"  almost  every  one  in  this  neighbourhood  goes  to  some 
place  of  worship";  others  where  "you  have  only  to 
build  a  church  and  it  will  be  filled,  unless  you  drive  the 
people  away." 

The  conclusions  of  Mr.  Booth  and  the  statistical 
Census  now  further  sift  themselves  under  classes. 

In  London  the  poor  (except  the  Roman  Catholic  poor) 
do  not  attend  service  on  Sunday,  though  there  are  a  few 
churches  and  missions  which  gather  some,  and  forlorn 
groups  can  be  collected  by  a  liberal  grunting  of  relief. 

The  working  man  does  not  come  to  church.  A  few 
small  communities  of  Primitive  Methodists,  Baptists, 
Salvationists,  and  similar  bodies,  as  a  general  rule 
represent  his  contribution  to  the  religious  life  of  the 

The  tradesmen  and  middle  class  of  the  poorer 
boroughs  exhibit  an  active  religious  life,  mainly  gathered 


in    the    larger    Nonconformist    bodies,    especially   the 

The  residents  in  the  suburbs  crowd  their  churches  and 
chapels,  and  support  with  impartiality  and  liberality 
all  forms  of  organised  religion. 

Before  passing  to  conclusions,  there  are  some  further 
points  of  interest  to  be  noted  concerning  the  region  of 
religious  effort  and  failure. 

First,  I  think  the  statistics  conclusively  demonstrate 
the  failure  of  what  I  may  call  the  "  mission  "  system. 
The  original  conception  was  an  idea  of  a  very  attrac- 
tive simplicity.  The  parish  church  or  the  mother 
chapel  was  to  he  the  place  of  meeting  of  a  cultured  and 
comfortable  audience.  These  paid  for  the  seats,  and 
were  edified  by  the  ministrations  of  a  cultured  and 
comfortable  pastor.  "  The  poor  will  not  come  to 
church."  The  presence  of  their  squalor,  if  they  found 
their  way  in,  would,  indeed,  be  a  little  embarrassing. 
So  in  the  poor  part  of  the  parish  a  "  mission-hall "  is 
built,  where  the  curate  or  the  faithful  laymen  of  the 
church  may  extemporise  popular  and  breezy  addresses, 
and  conduct  with  the  aid  of  an  harmonium  popular  and 
breezy  hymns.  The  mother  congregation  will  contri- 
bute generously  to  this  necessary  supplement  to  their 
efforts,  the  lady  members  will  assist  in  the  singing  or 
become  district  visitors,  and  the  hall  will  be  a  centre 
for  the  liberal  distribution  of  meat,  clothing,  and 
coals.  One  may  perhaps  rejoice  at  the  failure  of  this 
vicious  system,  as  revealed  by  these  investigations. 
Mr.  Booth  brings  a  sweeping  indictment  against 
the  whole  collection  of  shabby,  dilapidated  mission- 
halls  of  tin  or  drab  brick,  which  he  found  offered 
as  homes  for  the  spiritual  nourishment  of  the  poor. 
And  in  practically  every  borough  the  attendance 



of  adults  at  these  lamentable  erections  is  found  to  be 
approaching  the  vanishing  point.  Rarely  does  it  reach 
a  hundred.  43,  34,  16  in  the  Anglican,  8  in  the 
Baptist,  41,  41  in  the  Congregational,  I  find  the 
mission-hall  attendance  in  one  district.  In  another  are 
ten  Baptist  missions  with  an  average  morning  adult 
attendance  of  7,  and  evening  of  33 ;  in  another  five 
Anglican  with  a  morning  average  of  13,  and  evening  of 
50.  Not  on  such  lines,  it  may  safely  be  asserted,  will 
the  news  of  the  kingdom  of  God  come  to  the  working 
populations  of  London. 

A  second  noteworthy  feature  is  the  power  seemingly 
possessed  by  the  old  parish  churches  to  gather  congre- 
gations within  their  walls.  They  stand,  for  the  most 
part,  of  a  Georgian  or  early  Victorian  architecture,  like 
great  ships  washed  by  the  flood  of  humanity  which  has 
swept  around  them ;  built  for  a  time  when  Walworth 
was  a  fashionable  suburb,  or  Stepney  surrounded  by 
gardens,  or  Woolwich  a  flourishing,  self-centred  country 
town.  They  awaken  memories  of  a  vanished  past, 
before  the  torrent  of  poverty  swept  down  on  the  fields 
and  marshes  and  destroyed,  like  the  lava  stream, 
all  green  trees  and  every  living  thing.  Something, 
however,  of  their  quaintness  and  old-world  atmosphere 
seems  to  have  clung  around  them.  The  services  them- 
selves are  nearly  all  of  a  "  moderate "  type,  most 
characteristic  of  an  Established  Church  and  early 
Victorian  religion.  Most  of  these  parish  churches, 
with  their  type  of  worship  now  almost  superseded  by 
modern,  energetic  innovations,  exhibit  a  noteworthy 
number  of  Sunday  attendances. 

A  third  item  is  the  manifest  tendency  of  the  Noncon- 
formist worshippers  to  collect  together  into  strong 
centres — that  centralising  system  which  is  inevitable 


where  preaching  is  so  emphasised  and  the  stimulus  and 
guidance  of  the  pulpit  so  much  desired.  I  have  no 
douht  the  tendency  implies  loss  as  well  as  gain — that 
the  smaller  chapels  round,  which  are  emptied  to  swell 
the  great  congregations,  must  inevitably  suffer  from 
depression  and  a  sense  of  failure.  In  Woolwich,  for 
example,  we  may  note  Mr.  Wilson's  great  tabernacle, 
with  an  adult  attendance  of  1,669 ;  and  ten  other 
Baptist  chapels  dividing  1,520  between  them,  or  an 
average  at  each  service  of  76  persons.  In  Southwark 
Mr.  Spurgeon  attracts  a  magnificent  congregation  of 
1,054  adults  in  the  morning  and  1,954  in  the  evening; 
the  seven  adjacent  Baptist  chapels  obtain  between  them 
873  in  the  morning  and  1,769  in  the  evening,  an 
average  of  188  per  service;  while  the  adjacent  four 
Congregational  churches  are  occupied  by  but  628,  or  an 
average  of  78.  Mr.  Meakin's  hall  in  Bermondsey, 
again,  with  its  1,217  evening  attendance,  presents  a 
sharp  contrast  to  adjacent  Wesleyan  churches  with 
congregations  of  12,  130,  and  19,  and  to  the  desolate 
condition  of  churches  and  chapels  of  other  bodies  in  the 
same  desolate  region.  Undoubtedly  there  are  high 
compensating  advantages.  The  power  of  the  great 
preacher  is  multiplied.  The  stimulus  of  these  vast 
multitudes  is  invaluable  to  the  bodies  of  Christians 
scattered  and  small  in  the  surrounding  indifference. 
The  sight  of  the  congregation  of  the  Newington  Taber- 
nacle singing  hymns  on  Sunday  evening  on  the  steps  of 
the  great  edifice  is  a  guarantee  to  the  heedless  stream 
which  passes  by  that  there  are  some  who  still  believe  in 
their  religion.  But  \vork  under  the  shadow  of  these 
cathedral  gatherings  in  the  humbler  chapels  is  a  de- 
pressing experience.  The  congregation  slowly  melts 
away,  as  the  old  faithful  depart  and  the  younger  mem- 



bers  are  drawn  to  more  obvious  attractions.  I  know  of 
few  more  depressing  sights  than  the  gathering  of  the 
few  score  dejected  faithful  scattered  through  buildings 
of  size  and  pretension  from  which  all  the  life  has 

The  parochial  system  of  the  Established  Church,  with 
its  strong  emphasis  on  local  ties,  is  a  resistent  against 
this  tendency  in  the  Anglican  community;  the  com- 
paratively unimportant  place  occupied  by  the  preacher 
is  another.  Undoubtedly,  however,  the  Anglican  atten- 
dances suffer  as  well  as  the  Nonconformist  from  the 
attractive  influences  of  these  gigantic  tabernacles  and 
mission-halls.  One  is  driven  more  and  more  to  the 
conclusion  that  under  present  conditions  the  percentage 
of  attendance  at  church  to  population  in  London  ia 
about  a  fixed  number.  You  may,  by  special  effort  of 
preaching,  music,  or  excitement,  draw  a  large  and 
active  congregation.  But  you  have  done  so  by  empty- 
ing the  churches  of  your  neighbours.  The  water  is  not 
increased  in  quantity,  but  merely  decanted  from  bottle 
to  bottle.  In  the  cases  mentioned  above,  the  great 
chapels  with  their  allied  branches  and  their  immense 
activity,  I  can  very  gladly  testify  from  personal  know- 
ledge to  the  real  spiritual  enthusiasm  and  benefit 
which  they  diffuse.  There  are,  however,  other  popular 
attractive  services  which  must  be  received  with  less 
unqualified  praise.  Efforts  are  made,  wholesale, 
reckless,  sensational,-  to  excite  an  emotional  vigour. 
The  influence  in  any  case  appears  transitory.  The 
adherents  of  the  churches  are  lured  from  their  less 
exciting  services,  dosed  with  a  kind  of  spiritual  intoxi- 
cation, and  left  to  recover  from  the  debauch  as  best 
they  can.  Energetic,  well-meaning  persons,  seeing 
London  as  a  heathen  city,  hire  large  halls,  flash 



lantern  slides  before  the  eyes  of  the  crowd,  advertise 
"  Salvation  Jack  "  to  preach  on  the  subject  "  Catch  'em 
alive."  The  success  is  phenomenal,  and  they  go  to 
sleep  at  nights  convinced  that  they  have  advanced  by 
their  efforts  the  conversion  of  England.  People  who 
had  attended  humble  churches  and  chapels,  often  miles 
away,  are  drawn  to  this  new  spiritual  excitement.  In 
many  cases  they  never  return  to  their  old  membership, 
finding  the  old  methods  humdrum  and  unstimulating. 
I  am  sure  I  am  in  agreement  with  the  majority  of  the 
ministers  in  London  when  I  say  that  experience  has 
created  a  distrust  of  the  large  "undenominational" 
mission,  with  its  lavish  charities  and  sensational  appeals, 
the  special  advertisement  and  religious  excitement,  and 
all  efforts  to  reach  "  the  outcast  who  has  never  heard  of 
the  Gospel"  (who  scarcely  exists  in  London)  by  the 
satisfaction  of  his  stomach  or  the  adaptation  of  the 
methods  of  the  circus  and  the  music-hall. 

Another  feature  of  interest  is  the  evidence  of  the 
progress  of  Ritualism  and  "  advanced"  doctrine  amongst 
the  suburbs  of  London.  This  was  a  surprise  to  me.  I 
had  thought  these  energies  mainly  exhibited  amongst  the 
rich  who  were  attracted  by  its  ceremonial  and  the  poor 
who  welcomed  its  gospel  of  Socialism  and  fellowship. 
But  here  are  strong  churches  among  the  middle  classes 
— churches  mostly  built  in  recent  years,  and  by  the 
worshippers  themselves  without  external  assistance — 
evidently  providing  something  which  their  congregations 
desire.  Here,  if  anywhere,  is  to  be  found  the  Eitualistic 
grocer  whom  Sir  William  Harcourt  once  challenged  his 
ecclesiastical  opponents  to  produce.  The  suburbs,  I 
should  have  thought,  would  have  remained  the  last 
home  of  Protestantism,  and  around  the  northern  boun- 
daries of  London  they  remain  entirely  faithful  to  the 



evangelical  tradition.  But  all  through  the  south  and 
the  west  we  find  largely  attended  "  Catholic  "  churches. 
All  new  districts  of  mixed  population  seem  to  be 
efficient  fields  for  these  newer  energies.  It  is  a  note- 
worthy factor  in  the  estimation  of  the  changing  aspects 
of  London's  religious  life,  a  movement  still  progressing 
towards  an  end  no  one  can  clearly  foresee. 

Many  other  striking  features  are  revealed  as  by  a 
sudden  light  thrown  into  a  universe  of  cloud  and  dark- 
ness. There  is  the  smallness  of  number  and  magnitude 
of  congregation  of  the  Roman  Catholic  churches,  reveal- 
ing both  the  poverty  of  this  body  and  the  readiness  of 
its  members  to  travel  considerable  distances  to  fulfil 
their  obligations  of  attendance  at  Mass.  There  is  the 
astonishing  blossoming  out  of  offshoots  and  branches  of 
the  main  stream  of  Christian  life  into  all  kinds  of  quaint 
minor  sects,  each  with  its  own  specific  doctrine  and 
place  of  meeting.  These  become  most  pronounced  in 
the  suburbs,  as  in  Camberwell,  where  we  find  the  New 
Jerusalem  Church  with  45  morning  worshippers,  the 
Calvinistic  Independents  with  153,  the  Christadelphians 
with  49,  besides  such  less  conspicuous  bodies  as  the 
Holiness  Gospel  Mission  with  15,  the  Christian  Band 
Hall  with  70,  and  two  branches  of  Spiritualists  with  13 
and  39  adherents.  Again,  there  is  evidence  of  the  com- 
parative failure  of  "  undenominational  "  services,  with  a 
series  of  minute  attendances ;  the  inability  of  the  Salva- 
tion Army  to  attract  inside  audiences  ;  and  the  great 
contrast,  in  the  case  of  the  Wesleyan  Methodists, 
between  attendances  at  the  new  centres  of  the  forward 
movement  and  the  old  circuit  chapels. 

Finally,  it  may  be  asked,  What  is  the  relation 
between  the  figures  of  attendance  and  actual  religious 
influence?  How  far  can  the  activity  of  a  Church  in 



districts  be  measured  by  or  limited  to  the  number  of 
adherents  here  given  ?  This  is  a  question  largely  a 
matter  of  personal  impression  for  which  there  are  no 
exact  data.  My  own  opinion  is  that,  in  translation  into 
the  world  of  real  values,  the  numbers  for  the  central 
districts  are  considerably  too  small,  those  for  the 
suburban  considerably  too  large.  This  is  due,  on  the 
one  hand,  to  the  far  wider  diffusive  influence  of  the 
Church  in  the  poorer  districts  than  that  which  is  repre- 
sented by  the  handful  of  worshippers  ;  on  the  other,  to 
what  I  might  call  the  greater  religious  intensity  of  the 
worshippers  who  do  attend  where  church-going  is  out  of 
fashion  than  of  those  who  attend  where  it  is  the  recog- 
nised custom.  The  Church  in  the  vast  city  is  a  great 
engine  of  civilisation.  There  is  a  network  and 
machinery  of  social  organisation — clubs,  guilds,  boys' 
brigades,  mothers'  meetings,  improvement  societies. 
It  may  indeed  be  questioned  how  far  a  Church  is 
justified  in  turning  its  energies  from  its  definite  spiritual 
mission  to  the  more  practical  work  of  the  provision  of 
pleasure  and  the  amelioration  of  the  hard  life  of  the 
poor.  But  certainly  it  is  undoubted  that  civilisation 
would  be  considerably  delayed  were  this  apparatus 
removed.  This  activity  has  earned  for  the  Church  the 
friendliness  and  toleration  of  vast  populations  still 
impervious  to  its  spiritual  message,  and  a  few  years  ago 
in  an  attitude  of  open  hostility.  An  overwhelming 
proportion  of  the  children  attend  catechism  and  Sunday 
School  and  are  launched  into  life  with  such  cloudy 
religious  conceptions  as  these  institutes  are  able  to 
provide.  The  clergy  are  frequent  and  often  welcome 
visitors.  Each  individual  is  present  at  service  at  least 
at  his  baptism,  his  marriage,  and  his  funeral ;  and 
occasionally  on  other  special  occasions — harvest  festi- 



vals,  confirmations,  and  the  last  night  of  the  year. 
The  services  of  the  minister  of  religion  are  requisitioned 
in  times  of  trouble  or  illness,  and  few  would  willingly 
die  without  at  least  one  visit  from  the  clergyman.  All 
this  means  a  real  if  diffusive  influence.  Keligious  ideas 
are  still  "  in  the  air  "  ;  and  the  message  of  the  Church, 
the  consciousness  of  sin,  the  need  for  repentance,  and 
the  expectation  of  future  judgment,  have  not  yet 
entirely  vanished  from  the  horizon  of  London. 

I  should  he  inclined  to  assert  again  that,  in  quality, 
our  attendance  within  the  congested  area  more  than 
compensates  for  the  quantity  of  the  region  beyond. 
We  come,  if  at  all,  because  our  religion  is  real,  and 
amid  the  manifested  contempt  of  our  neighbours.  In 
the  smaller  churches  and  chapels  at  least  there  are  no 
meretricious  attractions  to  lead  us  thus  to  defy  public 
opinion.  Suburban  religion  is  largely  of  a  different 
character.  Much  of  it  is  the  mere  conventional  homage 
to  the  accepted  gods  of  the  community.  And  even  the 
section  that  is  honest  and  deliberate  is  often  partly 
lacking  in  certain  essentials  of  an  active  and  aggressive 
Christian  endeavour.  It  upholds  a  decent  life  and  a 
clean  moral  standard,  with  much  individual  personal 
piety.  But  it  is  far  too  content  to  limit  its  outlook  to 
its  own  family  or  church,  heedless  of  the  chaos  of 
confusion  and  failure  which  lies  at  its  very  doors.  It 
regards  with  disapproval  and  often  with  contempt  this 
world  of  poverty  with  its  dumb  demand  for  aid.  It  is 
generous  in  charity,  but  no  appeal  for  justice  in  the 
name  of  the  forgotten  poor  goes  forth  with  united  voice 
from  the  churches  of  London.  It  is  content  to  cultivate 
its  own  garden,  to  save  its  own  soul.  It  is  loth  to 
identify  its  interests  with  those  of  its  less  successful 
neighbours.  The  challenge,  "  Which  think  ye  was 



neighbour  to  him  that  fell  amongst  thieves  ?  "  remains 
unaccepted.  For  this  neglect  of  obvious  Christian  duty 
its  loss  is  at  least  as  great  as  the  loss  of  those  it 
declines  to  aid.  It  becomes  more  and  more  cut  off 
from  the  realities  to  which  a  living  religion  has 
always  appealed.  It  draws  the  line  tight  round  its  own 
border,  and  endeavours  to  satisfy  with  missions  and 
gifts  of  money  the  obligation  of  personal  service  and  of 
a  campaign  for  justice  to  all  the  desolate  and  oppressed. 
It  has  remained  up  till  now  unaffected  by  destructive 
criticism  and  the  changes  of  thought  and  outlook  which 
have  so  ravaged  the  orthodox  religions  in  other  regions. 
But  there  are  not  wanting  signs  of  the  approach  of  the 
disturbance.  It  has  still  to  pass  through  a  time  of  trial 
in  which  it  will  be  tested  to  its  foundations.  Material- 
ism, the  lust  for  pleasure,  the  modern  impatience  with  a 
definite  creed,  are  slowly  creeping  into  this  vigorous 
suburban  area ;  and  the  negative  assertions  of  science 
and  biblical  criticism  are  creating  centres  of  local 
disquietude.  If  the  prevailing  type  of  religion  largely 
withers  before  such  forces  as  these,  it  will  be  because  it 
has  set  itself  apart  in  comfort,  content  with  a  personal 
creed  of  salvation;  because  it  has  felt  no  passionate 
impulse  to  assert  a  common  fellowship  with  the  less 
fortunate  who  are  lying  at  its  doors — no  call  to 
right  the  wrongs  which,  in  the  words  of  a  modern 
reformer,  "  cry  continually  into  the  ears  of  the  Lord 
God  of  Sabaoth." 

We  have  enough  facts,  I  think,  to  justify  us  in  the 
statement  that  the  religious  life  of  England  at  the  dawn 
of  the  century  occupies  a  quite  unparalleled  position 
amid  that  of  the  nations  of  Western  Europe.  In  the 
case  of  all  other  countries,  religion  has  been  practically 
abandoned  by  the  rich  and  successful,  and  is  still 



grasped  with  tenacity  and  devotion  by  the  masses  of  the 
poor.  In  the  cities,  indeed,  amongst  the  male  popula- 
tions of  the  working  classes,  the  historical  faiths  of 
Christianity  have  heen  replaced  to  a  large  extent  by  the 
newer  creed  of  Socialism.  But  Socialism,  with  its 
sense  of  fellowship,  its  demand  for  the  merging  of  the 
individual  life  in  the  success  of  the  cause,  its  uplifting 
of  an  ideal  condition  of  justice,  and  its  effort  towards  a 
day  of  better  things,  in  many  ways  provides  a  back- 
ground to  life  and  the  vision  of  a  larger  horizon. 
But  in  England  exactly  the  reverse  conditions  prevail. 
The  claims  of  religion  are  still  acknowledged  by 
the  rich  and  governing  classes.  They  are  inoperative 
amongst  the  lives  of  the  poor.  No  dreams  of  a  reno- 
vated society  have  entered  the  chambers  left  empty  by 
their  absence.  Few  can  doubt  that  in  this  contrast 
ours  is  the  greater  loss.  Religion  to  the  rich  is  a  by- 
product— a  luxury  or  a  plaything.  Religion  to  the  poor 
is  an  essential  ingredient  of  lives  at  the  best  stunted 
and  confined,  oppressed  by  the  perplexities  of  existence 
and  limited  by  the  day's  toil  or  the  evening's  pleasure. 

It  is  not  an  encouraging  picture  which  is  finally 
stamped  upon  the  mind  in  the  investigation  of  human 
life  in  London.  It  is  a  vision  of  vast  and  shadowy 
multitudes  of  human  beings  driven  by  some  blind 
impulse  to  the  struggle  for  material  comfort  and  the 
needs  of  a  day.  Happiness  is  there,  family  affection, 
the  play  of  children,  even  ambition  and  a  high  moral 
standard.  But  it  is  the  life  of  a  day  with  a  narrowed 
outlook.  There  is  light  to  work  by,  but  no  clear  radiance 
of  dawn  or  sunset.  At  the  end  comes  nightfall,  with 
no  vision  beyond.  Vague  hope  of  a  better  time  for  the 
children  seems  rarely  to  develop  into  a  conscious  effort 
after  the  attainment  of  a  new  social  order.  Vague 



acknowledgment  of  a  phantom  and  tenuous  life  beyond 
the  grave  is  the  sole  representative  of  that  hunger  for 
immortality  which  in  every  age  has  refused  to  acquiesce 
in  the  visible  ruin  of  death.  Those  who  have  lived  with 
and  learnt  to  love  its  labouring  peoples,  with  their  in- 
domitable cheerfulness,  pluck,  and  endurance,  will  be 
the  first  to  affirm  that  their  predominant  need  is  the 
sense  of  a  larger  life,  without  which  human  existence  is 
as  that  of  the  gnat  or  the  midge ;  an  uplifting  of  the 
material  surroundings  to  show,  if  but  for  a  moment,  an 
encompassing  spiritual  horizon ;  and  an  ideal  cause 
able  to  illuminate  even  the  scene  of  contemporary 
failure  with  a  kind  of  glory 


It  is  interesting  to  note  how,  in  the  discussion  of 
remedies  for  the  ineffectiveness  of  religion  in  modern 
England,  almost  all  critics  plunge  straightway  into  the 
question  of  machinery.  The  worship  of  machinery, 
as  Matthew  Arnold  continually  asserted,  is  a  national 
characteristic  of  Englishmen.  And  each  observer 
appears  to  hold  that  if  that  particular  section  of  the 
machine  in  which  he  can  detect  a  flaw  could  be  repaired, 
or  if  a  particularly  up-to-date  invention  replaced  some 
antiquated  adjustment,  the  machinery  of  the  Churches 
would  once  again  grind  out  religious  enthusiasm.  With 
one  it  is  the  edifice.  He  deplores  the  cold,  Gothic 
building,  repellent  to  the  poor.  He  would  substitute 
large  lighted  halls  of  the  remarkable  and  dignified  style 
characteristic  of  the  later  nineteenth  century,  with  plenty 
of  carpets,  paint,  and  colour.  With  another  it  is  the 
edifices  themselves.  Let  the  leaders  of  religion  come 
out  into  the  street,  he  holds,  and  the  problem  is  solved. 



With  one  again  it  is  the  service,  antiquated,  unintelli- 
gible to  the  vulgar.  Collect  a  band,  he  urges,  sing  the 
"  Holy  City  "  and  other  moving  modern  melodies,  weave 
into  your  prayers  allusions  to  politics  and  incidents  of 
the  day.  With  another  it  is  the  sermon  ;  the  minister 
is  too  cold,  or  speaks  with  stammering  tongue.  Let  us 
place  a  great  preacher  in  every  pulpit,  and  the  masses 
will  vehemently  fight  for  entrance  to  our  churches. 
Some  advocate,  some  deprecate,  the  methods  of  the 
theatre.  Some  would  abolish  pews  altogether,  and  let 
the  men  stand.  Some  see  the  inevitable  advance  of 
religion  if  pews  are  made  more  comfortable.  Each  one 
has  convinced  opinions  as  to  what  "the  poor"  will 
come  to — the  large  hall,  the  small  mission,  the  street 
corner.  Few  seem  to  care  to  face  the  question  what 
"the  poor"  are  to  be  offered  when  they  come. 

All  this  would  be  very  relevant  if  we  could  recognise 
large  populations  with  real  desire  after  religious  devotion 
on  the  one  hand,  and  a  Church  with  a  living  message 
which  can  satisfy  this  desire  on  the  other.  The  whole 
problem  would  then  exhibit  itself  as  a  consideration  of 
the  method  by  which  the  one  can  be  most  effectively 
brought  in  contact  with  the  other.  But  the  conditions 
are  quite  otherwise.  On  the  one  hand  are  masses  of 
people  to  whom  the  spiritual  world  has  no  meaning, 
and  from  whose  lives  the  fundamental  bedrock  appeal 
of  religion  seems  to  have  vanished.  On  the  other  are 
Churches  whose  faith  has  grown  cold,  and  whose  good 
news  sounds  far  removed  from  anything  approaching 
the  passionate  enthusiasm  of  earlier  Christian  centuries. 
Were  this  enthusiasm  present,  the  problem  of  machinery 
would  soon  be  solved.  Preachers  would  be  speaking 
with  a  conviction  itself  eloquent.  The  services  would 
take  upon  themselves  a  character  of  infectious  courage. 



The  people  would  themselves  build,  as  always  in  the 
past,  edifices  reflecting  in  the  very  stones  the  character- 
istics of  their  faith.  Eeligion  would  impetuously  flow 
forth  from  their  limited  spaces  into  the  open  ways. 
Until  such  a  wind  of  the  spirit  can  animate  the  dry 
bones  of  religious  organisation  with  some  such  violent 
life,  all  conscious  modifications  of  machinery  become 
but  attempts  at  creating  a  soul  through  the  body, 
the  artificial  galvanising  from  without  of  an  organism 
from  which  the  inner  life  has  fled. 

Yet,  even  with  such  imperfect  message  as  we  have,  it 
is  well  to  criticise  the  vessels  in  which  it  is  conveyed ; 
more  especially  if  these  be  but  survivals  of  antique 
furniture,  or  symbols  of  class  distinction  and  a  dead 
faith.  How  far  and  in  what  particulars,  we  may 
profitably  inquire,  is  the  message  of  the  Churches 
hampered  by  its  methods  of  deliverance? 

First  in  regard  to  the  services.  Undoubtedly  we  are 
here  suffering  from  the  dead  hand  of  the  past.  The 
morning  and  evening  services  of  the  Church  of  England, 
as  normally  performed,  with  their  complicated  and 
mysterious  variations  of  canticles,  prayers,  and  irrele- 
vant readings  of  Scripture,  are  altogether  bewildering 
to  those  not  intimately  familiar  with  the  books  from 
which  they  are  compiled.  The  reformers  of  the  six- 
teenth century  endeavoured  to  restore  worship  to  the 
people  in  the  vulgar  tongue.  Unfortunately  the  Refor- 
mation was  in  essence  aristocratic,  never,  as  the 
Reformation  abroad,  awakening  response  from  the 
masses  of  the  population.  The  churches  passed  from 
the  hands  of  the  people,  who  ceased  to  take  a  pride  in 
them.  The  Church  services  became  more  and  more 
an  inheritance  of  a  limited  aristocracy.  The  longing 
for  something  warm,  human,  inspiring,  contributed 



largely  to  create  the  independent  bodies  which  in  all  the 
subsequent  centuries  have  formed  minor  centres  of  wor- 
ship. I  have  no  hesitation  in  saying  that,  for  the  majority 
of  the  poor,  to-day's  services  are  as  incomprehensible 
as  if  still  performed  in  the  Latin  tongue.  The  central 
service  of  the  Roman  Catholic  Church,  indeed,  with  its 
dramatic  and  appealing  character,  is  far  more  intelligible 
even  to  the  humblest  worshipper.  The  Reformation 
changes  provided  the  essentials  of  the  Mass  in  the 
English  Communion  service,  a  service  for  dignity  and 
beauty  quite  unparalleled.  The  monkish  matins  were 
never  intended  for  formal  parade  one  day  in  the  week, 
swollen  by  elaborate  music  into  intolerable  dimension. 
Any  one  concerned  with  the  religious  life  of  the  poor 
will  welcome  most  heartily  the  increased  honour  paid  to 
the  feast  of  the  Lord's  Supper  in  recent  years,  and  the 
progress  towards  its  restoration  to  the  central  position 
of  the  Sunday  worship.  Such  a  change  alone  would,  I 
believe,  remove  one  of  the  chief  obstacles  to  Church 

We  may  welcome  also  the  renewed  efforts  after  light, 
colour,  and  beauty  ;  the  introduction  of  symbolic  action, 
procession,  and  some  elements  of  movement  and  drama 
into  the  drabness  of  our  churches.  Religion  is  inde- 
pendent of  such  adventitious  aids,  and  the  essentials 
must  never  be  lost  in  the  attractions  of  sensuous  imagery. 
But  I  am  sure  that,  in  the  acres  of  desolate  hideousness 
of  the  streets  of  our  working  populations,  all  the  appeals 
of  sense  and  sound  and  colour  should  be  associated 
with  a  worship  which  is  to  lift  the  minds  of  tired  men 
and  women  to  some  other  vision  than  that  of  their 
material  meanness.  I  should  like  to  see  the  churches 
of  the  wealthy  studiously  plain  ;  not  vulgar,  indeed, 
like  the  "  up-to-date  "  religious  edifice,  a  building  which 



will  serve  as  a  record  and  a  warning  to  future  ages  of 
the  condition  of  religion  in  twentieth-century  England  ; 
but  with  whitewashed  walls  and  scant  decoration,  that 
the  worshippers  may  contrast  this  simplicity  with  the 
splendour  of  their  own  homes,  and  acknowledge  one 
standard  of  reality  in  man's  judgments,  another  in 
those  of  God.  And  I  would  see  the  churches  of  the 
poor  rich  with  colour  and  light — with  great  paintings  on 
all  the  walls  and  the  freest  use  of  every  artistic  appeal 
— that  these  also  might  learn  from  day  to  day  that  the 
monotony  and  meanness  of  the  grey  streets  in  which 
they  are  confined,  and  the  grey  lives  to  which  they  are 
destined,  is  not  a  destiny  which  was  designed  for  them, 
nor  a  bondage  from  which  they  will  never  be  freed. 

In  passing  from  the  ceremonial  to  the  character  of 
the  service,  we  are  confronted  with  a  manifest  difficulty. 
Living  in  a  transitory  time  or  order,  and  with  a  vision 
limited  to  our  own  settled  and  decent  lives,  much  of  the 
language  used  by  men  who  dwelt  amongst  the  enduring 
facts  of  human  existence  appears  to  us  archaic  and 
meaningless.  "  Agony  and  bloody  sweat  "  ;  "  widows 
and  orphans  and  all  that  are  desolate  and  oppressed  "  ; 
"battle,  murder,  and  sudden  death";  "the  hour  of 
death  and  the  day  of  judgment  " — how  faint  and  far 
away  all  this  seems  to  the  rational  and  settled  life  of 
suburban  London  !  The  difficulty,  indeed,  will  endure 
but  for  a  time.  The  persistence  of  comfort  in  a  world  of 
illusion  has  never  existed  but  for  a  few  generations. 
Here,  if  anywhere,  the  absence  of  sympathetic  imagina- 
tion, and  the  faithlessness  of  the  Churches  to  the  larger 
vision,  has  produced  an  aspect  of  make-believe.  If  these 
congregations  could  be  roused  to  apprehension  of  some- 
thing of  the  real  world  outside — of  Ireland  or  South 
Africa  in  the  immediate  t»ast,  of  Macedonia  in  the  imme- 

289  U 


diate  present,  of  the  life  of  the  poorest  always — these 
exclamations  and  cries  of  appeal  would  become  charged 
with  an  awful  significance,  a  demand  urged  with  violence 
in  the  name  of  fear  and  pity  for  the  vindication  of  the 
government  of  a  righteous  God. 

And  as  with  the  service,  so  with  the  sermon.  I 
would  not  reiterate  the  demand  for  "good  preaching," 
which  seems  to  me  utterly  to  confuse  the  purposes  of 
the  services  of  the  Church.  We  meet,  not  for  edification, 
but  for  worship — to  confess  our  sins,  to  obtain  spiritual 
succour,  to  renew  the  visible  guarantee  of  fellowship. 
Eloquence  will  attract  everywhere,  in  the  pulpit  as  in 
the  market-place.  But  the  crowds  which  run  after  a 
popular  preacher,  which  purchase  his  portraits  and 
finger  his  clothes  and  pry  into  his  family  life  and  the 
contents  of  his  larder,  seem  to  me  somehow  alien  from 
the  sincerest  forms  of  religion.  Yet  there  is  no  doubt 
that  the  patient  layman  has  a  right  to  appeal  for  better 
preaching.  The  pulpit  in  many  cases  is  not  only  not  an 
attractive,  but  is  actually  a  repellent,  force.  We  have 
no  privilege  to  insist  upon  eloquence.  But  we  can 
demand  sincerity,  the  frank  facing  of  difficulty,  freedom 
from  the  conventional  machinery  of  the  popular  exposi- 
tion of  doctrine.  The  prevailing  theology,  even  more 
perhaps  than  the  prevailing  liturgy,  is  wrapped  up  in 
an  ancient  language.  The  very  terms  are  technical — 
grace,  justification,  conversion,  perseverance.  They 
flow  out  glibly  from  the  student  who  has  soaked  himself 
in  their  historical  meanings ;  they  are  Greek  to  the 
general.  They  were  once  living  realities  for  which  men 
fought  gladly  and  died.  They  still  symbolise  realities, 
the  permanent  elements  of  the  life-history  of  the  soul. 
But  they  are  wrapped  around  in  cobwebs  and  the  com- 
plications of  a  technical  system,  frozen  into  sterility. 



They  have  no  more  meaning  and  no  more  appeal  to  the 
audience  at  whom  they  are  thrown  in  such  profusion 
than  the  details  of  the  performance  of  the  Mosaic  ritual, 
or  the  genealogies  of  the  legendary  heroes  of  the 
Hebrew  Bible.  We  want  neither  edifying  lessons 
drawn  from  the  wanderings  of  Israel  or  the  Book  of 
Joshua;  nor  brilliant  "word-painting"  of  some  of  the 
scenes  of  the  Bible  with  a  more  up-to-date  eloquence  ; 
nor  the  exposition  of  the  machinery  of  schemes  of  salva- 
tion once  real  from  which  the  life  has  departed;  but 
some  message  concerning  the  things  of  the  spirit, 
delivered  in  simplicity  and  humility  and  sincerity  to 
men  who  would  fain  be  simple  and  humble  and  sincere. 

A  special  question  has  been  aroused  by  the  impeach- 
ment, with  significant  emphasis,  of  the  methods  of 
modern  charity  and  its  alliance  with  religion.  Mr. 
Booth  discovers  over  the  whole  town  a  persistent  and 
undignified  struggle  between  competing  religious  bodies; 
and  in  any  particular  choice  slum  area  a  competition, 
rising  into  an  almost  open  warfare,  for  possession  of  the 
field.  One  half  of  London  seems  engaged  in  entertain- 
ing the  other  half  with  soup  and  bread  with  a  view  to 
its  subsequent  spiritual  edification.  Bound  the  city  he 
finds  the  whole  population  visibly  tainted  by  the  corrupt 
influence  of  competitive  charity  :  "  '  Irreligion,'  said 
one  incumbent,  '  is  the  result  of  all  this  bribery ;  we  are 
all  in  it,  church  and  chapel  are  equally  bad.  It  begins 
with  the  children  ;  buns  to  come  to  Sunday  School,  and 
so  on,  so  that  they  grow  up  with  the  idea  that  the 
Church  is  simply  a  milch  cow  for  tracts  and  charity.'  " 

The  typical  East  End,  the  happy  hunting-ground  of 
the  slummer,  is  "overdone  with  religion  and  relief." 
In  St.  Luke's  on  Sunday  afternoon  "visitors  from  fiva 
different  agencies  in  the  buildings  are  found  bribing  the 



people  to  come  to  their  meetings."  In  Soho,  "  nowhere 
is  the  clash  of  rival  doctors  so  great  as  here."  But 
even  the  far-off  regions  at  the  limits  of  the  city  tell  a 
similar  tale.  In  Deptford  "  the  poor  parts  are  indeed  a 
regular  Tom  Tiddler's  ground  for  missions,  and  we  hear 
of  one  woman,  busy  at  the  wash-tuh,  calling  out,  '  You 
are  the  fifth  this  morning.' '  In  Greenwich  there  is 
"  too  much  competition  for  the  moral  health  of  the 
people."  In  Woolwich  the  inhabitants  are  "fought 
over  by  the  various  religious  bodies  with  more  than 
common  vivacity."  Even  in  the  new  districts,  whose 
development  almost  immediately  into  slum  areas  is  one 
of  the  most  appalling  revelations  of  Mr.  Booth's  book, 
the  same  astonishing  competition  is  shown.  Down  in 
Wandsworth  "religious  activity  takes  the  shape  very 
largely  of  missionary  efforts,  competing  with  each  other, 
not  without  mutual  recrimination."  In  Kilburn  "  there 
are  four  churches  after  every  poor  family,"  and  the 
observer  wonders  at  the  strange  struggle  "  fought  over 
men's  bodies  for  their  souls." 

These  competitive  charities  become  most  pernicious 
when  they  are  definitely  used  to  wean  adherents  from 
a  rival  faith.  It  is  a  somewhat  dismal  commentary 
on  the  nature  of  the  forces  behind  the  distribution 
of  modern  charities  to  find  that  while  a  particular 
mission  in  a  neglected  district  fails  to  evoke  support, 
a  mission  planted  down  to  combat  the  influence  of  some 
rival  Christian  body  never  seems  to  lack  money  or 
adherents.  This  is  especially  true  of  the  opposition  to 
the  new  Ritualistic  energies  which  in  the  past  twenty 
years  have  swept  into  all  the  poorer  quarters  of  London. 
"  The  record  of  the  Evangelical  mission,"  says  Mr. 
Booth  of  one  district,  and  a  similar  commentary  is 
repeated  all  through  the  volumes,  "is  simply  that  of  a 



struggle  with  the  High  Church  for  the  souls  and  bodies 
of  the  children.  It  is  dole  versus  dole  and  treat  versus 
treat,  and  the  contest  openly  admitted  on  both  sides, 
while  people  taking  the  gifts  with  either  hand  explain 
how  careful  they  must  be  when  attending  service  that 
the  other  side  knows  nothing  about  it."  "  This  atrocious 
system,"  as  Mr.  Booth  rightly  calls  it,  is  a  very  dis- 
tressing revelation  of  the  superior  power  of  religious 
rivalry  to  religious  charity. 

This  enormous  stream  of  charity  flows  down  through 
the  various  religious  agencies  from  the  rich  to  the  poor. 
We  hear  of  mission  funds  with  incomes  of  ten  or  twenty 
thousand  a  year ;  some  business-like,  some  not  audited  at 
all,  or  "  audited  in  heaven."  Twenty-five  thousand  chil- 
dren are  fed  in  one  winter  by  one  mission ;  over  a  million 
men  receive  shelter,  cocoa,  and  bread  from  another ;  in 
a  third  to  all  comers  is  a  free  night-refuge.  Yet  the 
problem  of  poverty  is  no  nearer  solution.  Nor  do  the 
attempts  to  bring  men  within  the  reach  of  the  Gospel 
by  means  of  the  offer  of  food  and  gifts  appear  to  create 
permanent  results.  That  the  whole  system  does  more 
harm  than  good  is  the  verdict  of  those  familiar  with  its 
results.  One  would  think  it  was  almost  time  for  a 
definite  and  united  appeal  to  the  members  of  the  different 
churches  and  the  charitable  rich  seriously  to  consider 
the  harm  which  is  being  done  by  the  cruelty  of  their 

Other  questions  of  machinery  of  the  lesser  importance 
are  of  interest.  There  is  the  failure  of  the  Sunday 
Schools  either  to  implant  intelligible  religious  ideas  or 
to  foster  a  desire  for  spiritual  communion  and  worship. 
There  is  the  (as  I  think)  deplorable  theory  that  some 
special  kind  of  popular  "hall"  is  necessary  for  the 
development  of  the  religion  of  "  the  poor  " ;  that  by 



massing  these  into  huge  aggregations  you  may  encou- 
rage their  reviving  energies,  save  the  expense  of  too 
lavish  "plant,"  and  use  your  single  successful  evan- 
gelist to  the  best  advantage.  But  the  essence  of  the 
problem  resides  in  the  spirit  which  lies  behind  the 
machinery  and  its  influence  on  the  religious  life  of 

On  the  side  of  the  working  peoples  this  is  certainly  a 
period  of  unusual  difficulty.  The  uprooting  from  the 
country  and  the  transference  to  the  town  has  caused  a 
general  confusion  and  disorder.  Man  has  not  yet 
clearly  apprehended  his  position  or  appreciated  its 
possibility.  He  has  been  "  dumped  "  down  in  some 
casual  street,  unknown  to  his  neighbours,  unconnected 
with  a  corporate  body  or  fellowship.  He  moves  through 
time  in  a  kind  of  confused  twilight,  dimly  wondering 
what  it  all  means.  Material  comfort  and  security  is 
inevitably  under  these  conditions  his  main  interest. 
The  memories  of  a  life  which  is  independent  of  the  hard, 
visible  boundaries  become  daily  dimmer,  as  he  clangs 
the  hammer,  or  heaves  merchandise,  or  manipulates 
continually  hard,  material  things.  I  think  we  may 
safely  affirm  that  this  creation  of  a  city  race  is  in  no 
small  degree  responsible  for  the  present  manifest  failure 
of  appeal  of  all  spiritual  creeds. 

But  the  failure  is  none  the  less  considerable  from  the 
side  of  the  Churches.  We  come  from  outside  with  our 
gospel,  aliens,  with  alien  ideas.  The  Anglican  Church 
represents  the  ideas  of  the  upper  classes,  of  the  univer- 
sities, of  a  vigorous  life  in  which  bodily  strength,  an 
appearance  of  knowledge,  a  sense  of  humour,  occupy 
prominent  places.  The  large  Nonconformist  bodies 
represent  the  ideals  of  the  middle  classes,  the  strenuous 
self-help  and  energy  which  have  stamped  their  ideas 



upon  the  whole  of  Imperial  Britain.  Each  lives  in 
poor  districts,  in  them,  not  of  them.  Each  totally  fails 
to  apprehend  a  vision  of  life  as  reared  in  a  mean  street, 
and  now  confronting  existence  on  a  hazardous  weekly 
wage  from  a  hlock-dwelling  or  the  half  of  a  two-storied 
cottage.  Our  movements  and  inexplicable  energies  are 
received  with  a  mixture  of  toleration  and  perplexity. 
We  are  recognised  as  meaning  well,  but  our  aims  and 
ideals  never  become  clearly  intelligible.  "  What  is  he 
after?"  "What  does  he  get?"  "What  is  behind  it 
all  ?  " — are  questions  I  have  heard  frequently  asked  as 
some  church  has  bourgeoned  out  into  fresh  and  ingenious 
enterprise.  Sometimes  we  are  interpreted  as  pursuing 
some  deep  game  of  party  politics ;  sometimes  as  a  kind 
of  unofficial  policemen  paid  by  the  rates  and  taxes: 
more  often  perhaps  as  possessed  of  a  kind  of  exuberant 
energy  which  must  somehow  find  relief  in  religious 
services  and  mothers'  meetings.  Funds  from  outside 
raise  churches  and  chapels  ;  funds  from  outside  provide 
clubs  and  material  relief.  We  appear  and  we  vanish. 
After  a  few  months  of  this  perplexing  enthusiasm  the 
curate  or  minister  is  called  to  another  sphere  of  work, 
and  disappears  from  the  universe  of  those  who  had  just, 
perhaps,  commenced  to  realise  that  he  possesses  some 
traits  of  ordinary  humanity.  If  we  could  only  appre- 
hend how  entirely  baffling  and  irrational  all  this  must 
appear  to  those  who  are  looking  out  of,  instead  of  into, 
the  abyss,  our  surprise,  I  think,  would  be  less  at  the 
vastness  of  our  failure  than  at  the  magnitude  even  of 
our  poor  success. 

Connected  with  this  divergence  we  must  recognise 
how  scantily  up  to  the  present  the  Churches  and  mis- 
sions have  identified  themselves  with  those  demands  of 
Labour,  the  deliberate  attempts  to  strike  at  the  roots 



of  the  ills  and  oppressions  of  the  time,  which  the 
working  man  knows  to  be  just.  The  battles  of  the 
past  for  social  amelioration  have  been  fought  apart 
from,  and  often  with  the  open  opposition  of,  the  larger 
religious  organisations.  "All  the  Churches  are  against 
me,"  Lord  Shaftesbury  notes  in  the  course  of  his 
campaign  for  the  redemption  of  the  child-life  of 
England.  And  the  bitterest  opposition  to  such  social 
reformers  as  Charles  Kingsley  came  from  the  official 
Christian  communities.  Are  we  better  to-day  than  our 
fathers?  Factory  law,  the  right  of  combination,  free 
trade,  sanitary  dwellings,  a  humane  poor  law — these 
were  slowly  and  painfully  accomplished  without  the 
assistance  of  the  Churches.  The  needs  are  as  insistent 
to-day.  Decent  housing  and  a  home,  shorter  hours  of 
labour,  a  living  wage,  opportunities  of  life,  the  develop- 
ment of  common  interests  in  the  municipal  community — 
where  in  such  questions  of  fundamental  justice  as  these 
are  the  united  voices  of  the  Christian  community 
demanding  the  recognition  of  a  universal  responsibility 
in  the  name  of  the  common  fellowship  ?  Undoubtedly 
it  is  because  a  certain  section  of  the  High  Church  party 
have  fearlessly  proclaimed  this  social  gospel  of  a  visible 
kingdom  of  God  that  they  have  earned,  to  a  degree  so 
perplexing  to  many  who  deplore  their  doctrines,  the 
respect  and  friendship  of  the  leaders  of  labour  and  the 
devotion  of  the  poor.  These  clergymen  have  no  mono- 
poly of  devoted  work,  nor  do  they  give  in  charity  more 
than  the  missions  which  endeavour  to  stem  their  in- 
fluence. The  working  man  has  no  affection  for 
elaborate  ritual.  He  accepts  with  resignation,  as  part 
of  an  inexplicable  activity,  the  ornaments,  the  proces- 
sions, and  the  ceremony.  If  they  processioned  round 
their  churches  standing  on  their  heads,  he  would  con- 


front  the  performance  with  the  same  toleration.  But 
they  have  gone  down  and  lived  amongst  the  people ; 
they  have  proclaimed  an  intelligible  gospel  of  Christian 
Socialism ;  demanding  not  "  charity,"  but  "justice." 
The  campaign  has  brought  upon  them  a  storm  of 
obloquy  from  the  world  of  orthodox  religion.  It  has 
earned  them  the  affection  of  the  poor.  Such  a  life  as 
that  of  Father  Mackonoche,  or  Father  Lowder,  or,  in 
recent  times,  Father  Dolling,  with  his  continual  appeal 
for  "a  chance"  for  "my  people,"  has  struck  the 
popular  imagination  and  evoked  a  pathetic  gratitude. 
I  am  aware  that  this  social  message  is  not  the  whole 
gospel,  not  perhaps  the  most  important  part  of  the 
Christian  message.  But  it  is  far  the  hardest  part  to 
get  uttered,  and  it  is  the  message  which  the  times 
imperatively  demand.  The  cry  for  justice  provokes  a 
bitter  indignation  in  quarters  where  the  plea  for  charity 
evokes  a  ready  response.  It  is  not  unnatural  that  many 
successful  enterprises  doing  much  good  work  should 
hesitate  to  alienate  their  supporters  and  subscribers 
with  the  revolutionary  teachings  of  the  New  Testament. 
But  I  am  entirely  convinced  that  no  message  which  does 
not  contain  as  an  integral  and  essential  part  of  its  pro- 
clamation this  effort  towards  a  visible  social  salvation 
will  fall  upon  any  but  deaf  ears  amongst  the  working 
populations  of  our  great  cities. 

Professing  Christians,  it  has  been  a  little  cynically 
asserted,  are  the  chief  obstacles  to  the  spread  of 
Christianity  in  England.  Those  outside  the  Church 
are  continually  confronting  the  charters  of  our  creed 
and  the  weekly  profession  of  our  intentions  with  the 
dull  and  uninspired  acquiescence  of  our  daily  lives. 
Small  wonder  that  they  conclude  on  the  whole  that 
they  cannot  understand  what  we  are  after,  and  that 



what  they  can  understand  they  don't  admire.  They  see 
us  as  eager  and  tenacious  of  social  and  monetary  success 
as  those  who  make  no  profession  of  unworldliness.  They 
note  our  great  charities,  but  they  note  an  equal  if  not 
greater  charity  in  the  unbeliever ;  in  such  a  class  as, 
for  example,  the  players  of  a  theatre,  which  many 
profess  to  despise.  In  many  quarters  the  advice  has 
been  traditional  amongst  the  workmen  to  avoid  a 
"Christian"  employer.  They  discern  us  kindling  into 
occasional  spasmodic  violence,  not  at  social  wrong  or 
the  enormous  suffering  of  the  world,  but  when  we  are 
accusing  some  particular  Church  of  attempting  to  over- 
reach the  others  in  the  distribution  of  public  funds. 
They  find  us  noisily  advertising  our  own  wares  and 
proclaiming  the  shoddiness  of  our  neighbours  ;  devoting 
at  least  as  much  energy  to  the  undermining  of  their 
efforts  as  to  the  establishment  of  our  own.  They  note 
large  numbers  of  actively  professing  Christians  who 
manifest  no  obvious  fruits  of  the  spirit;  who  are 
querulous  or  exacting  masters  or  mistresses,  whose 
lives  pass  in  a  cold  routine  of  self-centred  business ; 
alien  altogether  from  that  eager  and  passionate  enthu- 
siasm of  humanity  to  which  St.  Paul  affixed  the  great 
name  of  charity.  The  verdict  may  be  superficial — it 
neglects,  and  unfairly  neglects,  the  other  side  of  the 
picture ;  but  that  it  is  a  verdict  endorsed  explicitly  and 
implicitly  by  a  vast  proportion  of  the  population  of 
London,  I  have  no  doubt  whatever. 

Eeligion  has  rejoiced  in  the  clear  knowledge  of  God 
and  forgotten  the  fellowship  of  man.  And  the  punish- 
ment has  been,  not  the  overthrow  of  its  outward 
prosperity,  but  the  slow  withdrawal  of  that  revelation 
of  which  it  seemed  to  possess  so  secure  a  certainty. 
So  that  now  we  walk  for  the  most  part  blindly,  in  the 



twilight,  with  no  clear  vision  of  a  spiritual  world  and 
an  unseen  Father.  It  may  be  that  the  way  hack  to  the 
unclouded  height  will  be  found  through  the  humble  and 
deliberate  search  after  that  fellowship  which  has  been 
offended  and  denied.  Confronted  with  records  of  the 
religion  of  t  London  in  this  time  of  tranquillity,  I 
can  imagine  no  more  sensational  discovery  than 
the  first  message  of  the  Christian  teaching  and  its 
judgment  of  the  life  of  the  day.  Teaching  so  familiar 
as  to  become  meaningless  may  assume  a  new  signifi- 
cance. The  feast  to  which  first  are  to  be  called  the 
friendless  and  poor  ;  the  "  Inasmuch  "  with  its  triumph 
and  its  mysterious  warning ;  the  strange  and  solitary 
revelation  of  future  judgment  for  a  rich  man  who  lived 
happily  with  want  and  misery  lying  unnoticed  at  his 
doors  ;  the  woes  pronounced  on  the  complacent  orthodox 
religions,  so  entirely  convinced  that  they  are  fulfilling 
every  jot  and  tittle  of  the  law ;  these  have  a  meaning 
for  Christianity  in  England  at  the  dawn  of  the  twentieth 
century.  Assuredly  it  is  as  well  that  the  old  gospel 
should  be  given  a  trial  before  we  proclaim  the  necessity 
for  a  new. 

Men  need  never  despair  of  the  future  of  religion. 
Humanity,  as  a  great  philosopher  affirmed,  is  not  des- 
tined permanently  to  inhabit  ruins.  A  world  which  is 
forgetting  God  does  not  involve  a  God  who  is  forgetting 
the  world.  The  movement  of  new  spiritual  advance 
may  arise  from  without,  not  from  within  the  Church ;  as 
so  many  of  the  great  restorative  movements  of  the  past 
generation,  whose  divine  origin  and  guidance  were  un- 
recognised by  the  members  of  the  organised  Christian 
community.  We  may  be  very  confident  that  the  time 
of  frost  and  present  cold  will  break  up  before  the 
warmth  of  another  spring.  The  Church  by  neglect  of 



its  election  and  high  calling  may  prolong  the  misery  and 
increase  the  confusion  of  time.  But  no  human  wilfulness 
or  weakness  can  for  ever  delay  the  restitution  of  all 
things  and  the  triumph  of  the  end.  A  new  dawn  will 
one  day  illuminate  the  vastness  and  desolation  of  the 
city.  Each  solitary  life  of  its  millions,  perishing,  as 
it  seems,  unheeded  and  alone,  is  destined  at  last  to 
find  the  purpose  of  its  being  in  union  with  the  Infinite, 
alike  its  origin  and  its  goal. 



'  The  lights  begin  to  twinkle  from  the  rocks  : 
The  long  day  wanes :  the  slow  moon  climbs :  the  deep 
Moans  round  with  many  voices.1' 



A  WRITER,  once  complained  of  Charles  Kingsley, 
that  he  wrote  as  if  always  anticipating  the 
happening  of  something  tremendous  ahout  the  middle 
of  next  week.  The  quotation  is  a  judgment,  less  of 
the  excitement  of  the  author  than  of  the  insensibility 
of  the  critic.  For,  throughout  the  age  in  which 
Kingsley  lived,  something  tremendous  always  did 
happen  in  the  middle  of  next  week.  The  spectator, 
astonished  or  indifferent,  confronted  one  of  the  greatest 
of  all  historical  upheavals  of  the  foundations  of  the 
mind  of  man.  The  Victorian  Age,  which  now,  alike 
in  its  sobriety  and  its  sanguine  dreams,  stands  so 
remote  in  the  background  of  the  memory  of  those  who 
are  living  in  an  alien  time,  will  be  stamped  in  the 
record  of  the  future  as  an  age  of  hurrying  change.  In 
many  respects  that  change  has  resulted  in  a  profounder 
transformation  than  had  been  effected  by  all  the  pre- 
ceding centuries.  The  gulf  is  greater  between  the 
England  of  to-day  and  the  England  which,  in  its 
secure  and  tranquil  life,  accepted  without  emotion  the 
death  of  the  last  of  the  Georgian  Kings,  than  between 
that  England  and  the  spacious  days  of  Elizabeth,  or 
the  coming  of  Augustine  with  a  new  faith  from  over  the 
sea.  Eighty  years  ago  England  was  a  quiet  community, 
chiefly  agriculturist,  scattered  over  a  little  island.  The 



traveller  journeyed  to  Edinburgh  or  to  Rome  by  the 
same  methods  of  progress  as  those  which  had  served 
the  messengers  of  the  Conqueror.  The  peasant  flung 
his  seed  into  the  soil,  and  hoped  for  the  direction  of  the 
forces  of  Nature,  the  rain  and  kindly  sun,  towards  the 
attainment  of  the  harvest,  as  at  any  day  through  all 
the  centuries.  The  generations  of  the  common  people 
gathered  for  petition  or  praise,  accepting  the  unchal- 
lenged announcement  that  the  visible  ruin  of  death  was 
but  a  prelude  to  an  awful  judgment ;  when  all  the  actual 
deeds  done  in  the  flesh  would  be  brought  to  account ; 
and  the  books  set  and  the  seals  broken  and  the  verdict 
proclaimed,  which  should  decide  the  fate  of  the  poor, 
pitiful  human  soul  throughout  unending  time. 

The  age  which  has  just  gone  by,  with  all  its 
meannesses  and  heroisms,  its  periods  of  great  passion 
and  intervening  tranquillities,  has  exhibited  the 
passing  of  this  earlier  England.  And  now,  those 
who  anywhere  attempt  to  penetrate  beneath  the 
surface,  with  all  its  humour  and  glitter  and  material 
opulence,  realise  that  they  are  estimating  forces  and 
equilibriums  in  a  new  nation.  In  the  earlier  period 
such  changes  as  were  accomplished  were  visible  and 
open  ;  there  were  manifest  tremors  and  violence  in  the 
world  of  politics  and  religion,  controversies  through  the 
fabric  of  organic  society.  So  Chartist  Agitations, 
Oxford  Movements,  Anti-Corn  Law  Leagues,  Liberal 
Aggressions,  Evolution  and  "  the  New  Reformation," 
with  the  noise  of  the  fall  of  privilege  and  the  songs 
of  triumph  of  the  victors,  proclaimed  to  all  men  that 
great  events  were  toward.  But  in  the  later  time  these 
portents  of  change  had  passed  away.  Men's  minds 
turned  towards  other  horizons :  expansion  "beyond  the 
sky-line  "  and  the  harvesting  of  their  rich  fortune  of 



prosperity.  And  the  sound  of  the  great  storms  of  the 
nineteenth  century  died  slowly  into  silence,  as  the 
rough  seas  subsided  into  the  mere  ground-swell  of  past 
disturbance,  and  this  again  to  the  quiet  ripple  of  the 
waves  along  the  shore.  Content  with  the  present, 
convinced  that  enough  had  been  done,  a  little  wearied 
with  the  tempests  of  reform,  England  settled  down  to 

Yet  to  the  sensitive  eye  this  vanishing  of  visible  up- 
heaval has  in  no  way  checked  or  changed  the  processes 
of  development  and  decay.  The  thirty  years  of  reaction 
will  appear  to  the  future  as  fruitful  in  the  seeds  of 
transition  as  the  previous  thirty  years  of  progress.  For 
events  in  the  world  of  thought  and  opinion — the  only 
world  which  ultimately  matters,  which  will  inevitably 
now,  or  in  the  coming  time,  mould  the  world  of  material 
things  in  accordance  with  its  claims — do  not  cease  to 
march  forward  because  men  have  become  weary  of  the 
effort  of  adjustment.  Throughout  this  passing  time 
of  order  forces  of  creation  and  destruction  have  been 
playing  upon  the  plastic  material  of  the  minds  of  men. 
Outwardly,  things  appear  settled  and  unchanged.  The 
ancient  institutions  of  the  realm,  the  Constitution,  the 
feudal  system,  the  Protestant  faith,  the  Established 
Church,  stand,  it  would  seem,  even  more  secure  than  in 
that  restless  past  when  the  utility  of  all  old  things  was 
being  roughly  called  in  question.  Yet  men  need  to 
remember — need  again  and  again  to  remember — that  a 
nation,  no  more  than  an  individual,  can  bid  time  stand 
still,  and  proclaim  the  permanence  of  the  summer  days. 
There  is  an  irony  of  judgment  in  the  spectacle  of  all 
those  past  brief  periods  of  peace,  in  which  a  people,  on 
the  verge  of  some  vast  disquietude,  riddled  with  forces 
which  are  hastening  the  upheavals  of  the  abyss,  stands 

305  X 


proud  and  satisfied,  confident  that  at  length  it  has 
attained  the  certainties  of  an  afternoon,  golden  and 
unending.  To-day,  were  we  but  as  sensitive  to  dis- 
turbance in  the  world  of  man's  profound  convictions, 
as  to  the  outward  modifications  of  the  forms  of  society 
in  which  those  convictions  are  clothed,  our  ears  might 
well  he  deafened  by  the  noise  of  the  crash  of  the 
elements,  of  growing  and  of  dying  worlds. 

And,  whether  delayed  by  idleness  or  man's  natural 
fears  of  the  violence  of  an  unknown  future,  and  so 
postponed  again  and  yet  again  by  those  whose  first 
demand  is  peace  at  least  in  their  time  ;  sooner  or  later, 
without  any  doubt  at  all,  the  outward  fabric  must 
respond  to  the  realities  of  the  inner  life.  Kuins  must 
collapse  and  be  cleared  away,  and  new  dwelling  places 
be  constructed  adequate  to  man's  desires.  To  the 
eye  which  can  scan  the  larger  stretches  of  time, 
and  see  the  end  in  the  beginning,  the  process 
has  been  already  completed  before  a  stone  has  been 
disturbed.  The  French  Revolution  was  accomplished 
when  society  laughed  with  Voltaire,  instead  of  lament- 
ing, over  the  Church's  immoralities  ;  and  applauded 
Rousseau's  proclamation,  with  lean,  upraised  claw,  of 
the  coming  of  an  age  of  innocence  and  gold.  And  all 
the  intervening  time  of  troublous  dreams,  of  financiers 
oppressed  with  a  national  bankruptcy,  and  bishops 
timidly  essaying  a  reform  of  manners,  and  the  coming  of 
a  new  king  and  an  age  of  enlightenment  amid  a  universal 
rejoicing,  were  but  the  passing  scenes  in  a  drama  whose 
fifth  act  had  been  already  composed.  A  similar  insight 
can  be  applied  to  the  things  of  to-day.  The  passing  of 
the  first  peasant,  unchallenged,  into  the  labyrinth  of 
the  city,  his  discovery  there  of  independence  and  an 
adequate  return  for  his  labour,  was  the  passing  of  the 



feudal  system  in  England.  The  company  which 
witnessed  the  admission  of  the  first  Dissenter  into 
Parliament  witnessed  also,  all  unwittingly,  the  fall  of 
the  Established  Church.  And  the  perplexities  of  the 
author  of  "  Colenso's  Arithmetic  "  over  the  reconciliation 
of  irreconcilable  numbers  in  the  estimates  of  the  wander- 
ings and  the  fightings  of  the  children  of  Israel,  marked 
the  close  of  a  particular  type  of  Protestant  civilisation 
which  had  been  dominant  in  England  for  three 

Here  are  three  institutions  built  out  of  living  forces 
into  forms  and  systems  congruous  with  a  former 
energetic  life,  which  now  stand,  to  the  impartial  eye, 
undermined  in  their  foundations.  Each  had  been 
fiercely  assailed  during  the  time  immediately  passed ;  and 
each,  while  the  springs  of  an  inner  life  remained,  stood 
secure  against  all  the  forces  of  reason  and  of  hatred 
which  fell  upon  them.  In  the  mid-century,  the  fury  of 
the  middle  classes  and  of  manufacturing  England  threw 
itself  against  the  old  Landed  System.  Cobden,  after 
the  freeing  of  trade,  was  already  joyfully  proclaiming 
"  the  crash  of  feudalism "  as  the  completion  of  his 
policy.  The  landed  interests  were  tense  with  the 
consciousness  of  the  coming  of  change,  and  banding 
themselves  together  for  a  final,  desperate,  and,  as  most 
would  have  confessed,  hopeless  resistance.  Yet  the 
fifty  years  have  passed,  and,  with  their  passing,  all  the 
noise  of  conflict.  The  system  remains,  and  in  practice 
almost  unchallenged.  Little  more  than  thirty  years 
ago,  the  visible  end  of  the  Established  Church  appeared 
but  a  matter  of  days,  The  destruction  in  Ireland  had 
seemed  but  a  prelude  to  a  greater  destruction  this 
side  of  the  sea.  In  the  records  and  memoirs  of  the 
'seventies,  while  the  forces  of  the  Liberation  Society 



and  other  assailants  breathe  the  consciousness  of 
victory,  the  records  of  the  Church's  leaders  are  full 
of  mournful  forebodings  of  an  imminent  and  inevit- 
able destruction.  Yet  the  kaleidoscope  has  changed ; 
and  the  noise  and  forecast  of  coming  success  have  died 
into  silence.  And  to-day  the  Liberation  Society  has 
become  a  negligeable  force  in  politics,  and  all  questions 
of  reform  or  disestablishment  of  the  national  religion 
relegated  to  purely  academic  discussion.  Little  more 
than  a  generation  back,  again,  the  popular  faith  seemed 
tottering  upon  the  verge  of  ruin.  The  adherents  of  the 
"  New  Reformation  "  were  openly  anticipating  a  renewal 
of  the  large  upheavals  of  the  sixteenth  century.  The 
astounding  advance  of  the  sciences,  the  examination  by 
the  new  critical  methods  of  the  ancient  Biblical  nar- 
ratives, the  spread  of  education  and  a  more  humane 
culture  would  leave,  it  was  held,  the  popular  religion  as 
a  mere  survival  of  absurd  and  forgotten  things.  Yet 
the  days  have  gone,  and  the  visible  change  has  not 
hastened.  Protestantism  stands  entrenched  and  secure  ; 
its  temples  increasing  in  number  and  in  splendour ;  its 
adherents,  it  would  seem,  confident  in  themselves  and 
in  the  triumph  of  their  cause.  It  is  the  survivors  of 
the  crusaders  of  these  earlier  days  who  now,  in  some 
sadness,  contemplate  the  walls  they  had  set  themselves 
to  destroy,  still  high  and  inviolate ;  and  who  now 
wonder  why  all  the  efforts  of  their  forces  and  of  Time 
have  thus  forlornly  failed. 

So  these  questions  have  drifted  out  of  the  region  of 
living  politics.  The  reformer  who  enters  upon  his 
career  with  arguments  concerning  land  reform  or 
religious  equality  is  likely  to  be  roughly  reminded 
that  some  time  has  elapsed  since  the  death  of  Disraeli, 
or  that  he  is  not  living  in  the  days  of  the  Prince 



Consort.  The  word  "  Disestablishment "  would  produce, 
in  the  mind  of  the  present-day  statesman,  the  same 
bewildering  effect  as  the  word  "  delicacy  "  upon  Matthew 
Arnold's  friend.  For  the  first  time,  those  committed 
to  the  maintenance  of  the  older  order  are  prepared  to 
relax  their  efforts,  as  they  assure  themselves  that  at 
length  the  danger  is  passed,  and,  for  many  generations, 
the  victory  assured. 

Yet,  while  the  outward  signs  of  struggle  have  thus 
died  away,  hidden  and  unseen  forces  have  been  effecting 
a  more  fatal  destruction.  To-day,  indeed,  the  end  is 
far  more  clearly  assured  than  in  all  the  time  of  the 
conflict.  While  the  leaves  were  green  and  the  sap 
flowed  freely  in  the  branches,  the  tempest  beat  down 
in  vain.  The  tree  stands  now  in  the  security  of  a 
quiet  air.  But,  if  the  vital  forces  are  withdrawn,  and 
within  the  wood  has  turned  to  a  little  dust,  all  the 
fair  outward  seeming  may  hold  a  delusive  danger:  a 
breath  of  summer  wind  may  ensure  a  ruin  which  could 
not  be  accomplished  before  its  time  by  all  the  storms 
of  winter. 

And  such  appears,  to  some  at  least,  to  be  the  con- 
dition to-day  of  ancient  systems,  whose  stability  at  the 
present  receives  scarcely  a  passing  challenge. 

The  first,  and  perhaps  the  most  far-reaching  of  these, 
is  the  English  Landed  System  :  the  feudal  organisation, 
with  all  its  implications  of  leadership  and  obedience,  as 
embedded  in  the  very  heart  of  the  old  life  of  England. 
Here  is  one  place  in  which  the  thirty  years  of  silence 
have  effected  more  momentous  changes  than  all  the 
hubbub  of  the  former  time.  Kents  were  high  in  the 
early  'seventies,  land  increasingly  valuable.  The 
landed  interest  had  attained  supremacy  in  Parliament 
for  the  first  time  in  a  generation.  The  great  uprising 



of  the  agricultural  labourer  had  heen  successfully  over- 
come ;  and,  with  the  breaking  of  the  Union,  the  farmers 
were  rejoicing  at  the  battening  down  of  the  hatches 
upon  the  revolting  slaves.  The  old  tripartite  division 
of  landlord,  farmer,  and  landless  labourer  might  have 
appeared  as  something  in  the  nature  of  a  Providential 
order,  convenient  to  the  genius  and  conditions  of  the 
English  race. 

A  statesman  has  well  said,  that  if  the  great  changes 
which  have  fallen  on  the  English  landed  interest  during 
the  last  few  decades  had  been  essayed  by  legislation  and 
human  demands,  instead  of  by  blind  and  impersonal 
forces,  they  could  only  have  been  accomplished  through 
revolution  and  civil  war.  An  immense  fall  in  prices 
has  resulted  in  a  widespread  destruction.  Rents  and 
farmers'  profits  have  alike  diminished,  in  places  below 
any  possible  continuance  of  the  old  system.  The  per- 
sistence of  feudalism  under  these  circumstances  could 
only  have  been  affected  by  two  stringent  provisions  :  the 
one,  the  closing  of  the  ports  of  England  to  foreign  food ; 
the  other,  the  barricading  of  the  entrances  of  all  the 
cities  to  the  agricultural  labourer.  With  organisation 
destroyed  and  all  hope  of  improvement  abandoned,  the 
labourer  has  quietly  taken  revenge  on  his  masters. 
With  hatches  battened  down,  the  slave  has  crawled  out 
of  the  window.  So  that  now  an  exodus  of  all  the  young 
and  able-bodied,  all  who  possess  energy  and  hope  and 
confidence  in  themselves,  pours  an  ever-increasing  flood 
from  the  deserted  fields  into  the  streets  of  the  towns. 
Imagination  has  been  struck  by  the  dolorous  case  of 
Ireland,  a  population,  it  would  appear,  vanishing  from 
its  own  land.  Isolate  rural  England,  and  exactly  the 
same  problem  is  revealed.  It  is  the  cities  alone  which 
retain  the  influx,  and  keep  the  people  of  England,  a 



landless  people,  still  within  the  borders  of  their  own 
land.  Wages  rise  steadily  to  attract  the  forlorn 
remnant,  land  passes  from  arahle  to  pasture,  from 
pasture  to  scanty  sheep  runs,  or  developes  special 
cultivations,  dependent  upon  nomadic  labour  lured 
outwards  for  a  moment  from  the  slums  of  the  cities. 
But  still  the  famine  of  men  deepens ;  and  from  east  to 
west  the  cry  goes  up,  that  what  is  left  is  scarce  worth 
retaining,  that  the  departure  of  the  present  generation 
will  witness  the  end  of  an  age. 

Here  is  the  change  at  the  silent  basis,  that  assiduous 
and  docile  stratum  of  serf  labour  upon  which  the  whole 
complex  structure  was  reared.  A  change  no-  less  pro- 
found has  been  effected,  meanwhile,  around  the  summit. 
The  structure  is  being  replaced,  piece  by  piece,  by  other 
material ;  until,  at  the  end,  without  visible  collapse,  the 
whole  thing  has  become  transformed.  The  old  country 
gentleman,  the  type  of  the  lesser  landed  aristocracy  of 
England,  is  already  becoming  a  thing  of  the  past.  On 
the  one  hand  has  come  the  blow  of  the  fall  in  land 
values.  On  the  other,  an  increasing  comfort  and 
extravagance  of  society  has  stimulated  a  more  rapid 
squandering  of  fortune.  He  is  vanishing  from  Parlia- 
ment. His  voice  is  no  longer  potent  in  the  councils  of 
his  party.  His  place  is  being  taken  by  the  men  of  the 
new  wealth — rich  brewers,  financiers,  a  Rutherfoord 
Harris  or  a  Harry  Marks.  He  is  vanishing  also  from 
the  land  of  his  inheritance.  One  day  his  house  and 
lands  are  sold  to  one  of  the  new  rich,  desirous  of 
establishing  a  position  and  founding  a  family ;  and  he 
has  passed  from  the  horizon  of  those  who  regretfully,  or 
with  bitter  memories,  are  compelled  to  own  allegiance 
to  another  master.  The  larger  estates,  indeed,  still 
remain  for  the  most  part  secure.  The  American 



marriages,  the  gold-fields  of  South  Africa,  the  harvest 
of  the  increasing  ground  rents  of  the  cities,  have  here 
prevented  the  crumbling  of  the  whole  concern  into 
ruin.  But  although  some  kind  of  material  prosperity 
is  thus  secured,  and  round  the  great  houses  a  race  of 
dependants  can  still  be  reared,  and  the  occupations 
of  game-preserving  or  gardening  or  the  repairing  of 
motors  replace  the  direct  cultivation  of  the  soil,  yet  the 
spirit  of  the  old  cannot  be  transformed  to  the  exotic  life 
of  the  new.  The  country  house,  instead  of  being  a 
centre  of  local  interest,  is  now  an  appendage  of  the 
capital.  A  tiny  piece  of  London  is  transferred  in  the 
late  summer  and  autumn  to  a  more  salubrious  air  and 
the  adjacency  of  the  coverts.  Rural  England  appears 
as  slowly  passing  into  gardens  and  shooting  grounds, 
with  intervening  tracts  of  sparse  grass-lands,  committed 
to  the  rearing  of  cattle  and  of  pheasants,  rather  than  of 
men.  Fifty  years  ago,  one  class  of  reformer  could  still, 
without  absurdity,  find  the  solution  of  social  discontent 
in  a  revived  feudalism.  A  Carlyle  or  a  Ruskin  would 
passionately  plead  with  the  gentlemen  of  England  to 
take  up  the  burden  of  government  committed  to  a 
landed  aristocracy.  What  observer  of  the  England  of 
to-day  would  have  the  hardihood  to  proclaim  a  similar 
message  ?  Frenzied  efforts  of  sectional  influences 
attempt  to  deal  with  the  special  hurt  that  grips  them. 
The  farmer  demands  Protection  and  such  impossible 
follies.  The  landlord  seeks  grants-in-aid  in  relief  of  the 
rates.  The  country  clergyman  laments  the  vanishing 
of  nearly  half  his  income  in  a  generation.  The  friends 
of  the  labourer  desire  more  and  better  cottages,  or  a 
modified  educational  system,  or  the  music-hall  entertain- 
ment, as  alone  able  to  keep  him  contented  in  his 
position.  They  are  one  and  all  blind  to  the  fact  that 



they  are  confronting,  not  a  series  of  special  discontents, 
but  a  whole  dying  order.  Changes,  which  they  can 
neither  comprehend  nor  control,  are  creating  an  Eng- 
land alien  from  the  England  which  they  have  ever 

The  change  could  be  accepted  with  tolerance,  and 
even  with  some  humour,  but  for  the  fact  that  the  ruins 
and  the  playgrounds  cumber  the  ground,  and  forbid  the 
creation  of  the  new  order.  The  new  millionaires  might 
play  at  patronage,  the  model  village  be  spread  out  for 
the  delight  of  the  town  visitor,  the  farms  and  fields 
crumble  into  picturesque  decay,  were  it  not  that  the 
elimination  of  any  free  and  healthy  country-bred  life 
means  the  loss  of  elements  of  stability  and  human  well- 
being  vital  to  the  future  of  the  race.  The  land  available 
is  limited :  and  the  effort  demanded  for  the  creation 
either  of  a  scientific  agriculture  on  a  large  scale,  or  of  a 
race  of  free  yeomen  or  peasant  farmers,  finding  economic 
security  in  co-operation,  supplementing  the  work  of  the 
fields  with  home  industries,  is  effectually  damped  by  the 
opposition,  on  the  one  hand,  of  those  who  know  not  that 
their  day  is  over,  on  the  other  of  those  entirely  convinced 
that  their  day  has  come.  So  that  there  is  no  active 
effort  to  establish  a  system  which  everywhere  abroad, 
from  Brittany  to  Bulgaria,  is  alone  proving  adequate  to 
the  exigencies  of  the  newer  time.  To  the  patriot  the 
spectacle  is  one  of  desolation.  He  knows  the  necessity 
of  a  continual  stream  of  vigorous  life  to  replenish  the 
furnace  of  the  cities.  He  recognises  that  that  stream  is 
likely  to  vanish  through  the  drainage  of  its  sources  of 
supply.  He  is  convinced  also  that  the  restoration  of  the 
people  to  their  land,  in  which  at  the  present  they  move 
as  aliens,  is  one  of  the  insistent  needs  of  social  advance. 
He  can  examine  in  diverse  districts  of  England,  in 



Dorset,  and  Hants,  and  Lincoln,  and  Worcester,  solitary 
experiments  which  have  shown  conspicuous  success. 
Yet  he  finds  no  interest  in  his  schemes,  no  response  to 
his  appeal.  He  is  beating  the  thin  air  in  vain.  lie- 
formers  like  Mr.  Eider  Haggard  are  compelled  to 
confess  that  the  whole  subject  is  regarded  as  caviare 
to  the  general,  that  the  man  who  would  determine  to 
thrust  it  forward  runs  the  risk  of  being  branded  as 
a  bore. 

Such  of  the  land.  What  of  the  Church  during  the 
same  tranquil  time  ?  With  the  active  onslaught  upon 
the  Establishment  dying  away,  there  have  here  been 
changes  equally  noteworthy,  equally  suggestive  of  some 
future  explosive  action.  Briefly,  it  may  be  said  that 
these  changes  have  developed  two  deep-flowing  and 
diverse  currents.  While  the  clergy,  as  a  whole,  and 
the  more  militant  laity,  have  been  drifting  towards  a 
Catholic  position,  the  great  bulk  of  the  laity,  faithful 
and  unfaithful,  have  remained  Protestant  or  indifferent. 
This  statement  does  not,  indeed,  imply  an  endorsement 
of  the  follies  of  those  who  see  a  vast  "  Romanising  " 
conspiracy  amongst  the  bishops  and  clergy,  or  who 
contemplate  with  wrathful  impotence  the  announcement 
of  a  dogma,  or  the  elaboration  of  a  ritual,  which  they 
hold  to  be  puerile,  dangerous,  or  foreign.  Extremists 
must  always  accompany  any  large  movement  of  spiritual 
assertion,  and  always  scandalise  those  who  demand,  first 
of  all,  sobriety  and  adherence  to  the  orthodox  ways.  It 
is  not  a  "Romanising"  but  a  "Catholic"  revival,  which 
the  student  of  religions  will  emphasise.  The  attempt  is 
deliberate  to  emphasise  the  Catholic  elements  in  the 
compromise  of  the  sixteenth  century,  and  all  those  par- 
ticular conceptions  of  religious  life  which  gather  round 



the  real  existence  of  a  visible  Church.  On  the  one  side, 
now,  are  the  Catholic  assertions.  The  Church  is  seen 
as  a  definite  organism  with  a  divinely  constituted 
ministry.  The  Sacraments  appear  as  channels  of  a 
supernatural  life.  Symbolism  is  welcomed  as  the  ex- 
pression of  a  deliberate  ritual  of  worship.  There  is 
insistence  upon  a  disciplined  life ;  with  the  observance 
of  seasons  and  times  ;  the  setting  forth  of  an  austerity, 
a  feiTour  of  devotion,  a  humility,  courses  of  self-examina- 
tion, as  the  way  towards  the  perfect  life.  On  the  other, 
is  the  opinion  of  the  vast  bulk  of  present  public  opinion ; 
to  which  the  Church  and  its  ministers  are  matters  of 
very  human  construction,  of  no  particular  authority  or 
veneration ;  and  the  Sacraments  at  most  pleasant 
memorial  ceremonies ;  and  ritual  is  absurd ;  and 
times  of  abstinence  or  special  devotion  entirely  re- 
pugnant ;  and  the  highest  aim  of  religion  the  setting 
forth  of  a  sober  and  not  too  exaggerated  piety,  sweeten- 
ing the  struggle  of  the  life  of  the  day.  Here  is  an 
antinomy  which  no  legislation  can  reconcile.  The  hope, 
still  stoutly  maintained  by  a  few  forlorn  fighters,  that  it 
will  be  possible  by  special  legislation,  Church  Discipline 
Bills  and  the  like,  either  to  purge  the  Church  of  England 
of  all  its  Catholic  elements,  or  to  reduce  these  by  threats 
and  persecutions  to  a  decent  Protestantism,  shows  a 
pathetic  ignorance  of  the  actual  possibilities  of  the 
future.  Could  some  such  shattering  decision  be  obtained 
by  law,  or  embodied  in  legislation,  as  that  which  has 
recently  stripped  half  its  endowments  from  the  United 
Free  Church  of  Scotland,  and  the  Catholic  position  be 
declared  untenable  within  the  Establishment,  without 
any  doubt  at  all  those  thus  dispossessed  would  go  forth 
contentedly  into  the  wilderness ;  and  the  remnant  would 
find  itself  in  a  position  somewhat  parallel  to  the  "  Wee 



Kirk,"  with  large  endowments  and  no  ministers  to  enjoy 
them.  No  one  can  study  the  position  of  the  movement 
which  its  opponents  delight  to  call  "  the  Catholic  re- 
action," without  being  conscious  of  the  existence  of  a 
vigorous  life.  Its  congregations  are  large  and  enthu- 
siastic. Its  churches,  many  recently  built  in  slum  or 
suburb,  are  erected  and  maintained  largely  by  present- 
day  contributions.  Most  of  the  vital  force  of  religion,  as 
at  present  manifest  in  the  Church  of  England,  the  effort 
towards  social  regeneration,  the  militant  combat  against 
unbelief,  has  enrolled  under  its  banners.  Few  sights 
are  at  once  more  ludicrous  and  more  pathetic,  than  the 
efforts  of  the  faithful  ladies  and  laymen  to  stem  the  tide. 
The  appeals  in  bulky  correspondence  in  the  Times,  the 
description  of  enormities  seen  in  some  village  church, 
the  money  so  freely  expended  upon  "Protestant" 
defence,  the  rich  livings  awaiting  the  skilled  advocate 
of  the  orthodox  belief,  all  fail ;  because  lacking  in  that 
one  element  of  spiritual  ardour  and  enthusiasm  and  con- 
fidence in  its  cause,  which  neither  indignation  can 
kindle  nor  money  buy. 

Beyond  this  fundamental  and  dangerous  divergence, 
time  has  brought  other  changes.  The  old  position  of 
the  Church  as  an  accepted  element  of  a  social  order,  the 
traditional  attitude  of  the  clergyman  in  the  fabric  of  the 
country  life,  is  passing  with  that  order's  decline.  The 
clergy  have  lost  heavily  by  the  fall  of  the  tithe  and  of 
land  values ;  and  their  poverty  now  presents  a  separate 
and  importunate  problem.  The  layman  offers  a  steady 
and  successful  resistance  to  any  suggestion  that  he  shall 
take  upon  himself  the  burden  of  their  support.  The 
supply  of  clergy  actually  decreases,  despite  the  enormous 
increase  of  population.  Attendance  at  the  Church's 
worship  seems  likewise  to  exhibit  a  steady  decline. 



Thought  has  driven  far  beyond  the  boundaries  of  the 
old  formularies  and  historic  creeds.  To  the  men  of  the 
twentieth  century  the  assertions  and  warnings  of  the 
mediaeval  age  sound  strangely  remote  and  incongruous. 
At  the  same  time,  the  actual  present  relationship  of 
the  Church  to  the  legislature  of  the  nation  is  becoming 
more  and  more  conspicuously  impossible.  It  is  tied 
with  the  bonds  of  a  vanished  past,  unable  either  to 
reform  itself  or  to  obtain  relief  through  legislation.  In 
each  specific  instance,  a  Parliament,  composed  of  men 
of  all  religions  and  of  none,  gravely  or  frivolously  dis- 
cusses the  expediency  of  action,  in  debates  which  are  at 
once  unedifying  and  ridiculous.  Those  who  have  de- 
liberately repudiated  any  connection  or  membership  are 
the  first  to  advocate  the  modifications  of  its  theology  or 
the  tuning  of  its  pulpits.  The  deadlock  has  extended 
even  into  the  manipulations  of  its  machinery.  A  tiny 
Bill  for  the  authorisation  of  two  new  Bishoprics,  for 
which  the  funds  had  been  privately  subscribed,  was 
lengthily  discussed,  bitterly  opposed,  and  only  carried, 
after  years  of  delay,  by  the  definite  determination  of  the 
Government  to  push  it  through  at  any  cost.  Nor  is  it 
possible  to  see  how,  without  the  fortunate  accident  of  a 
Prime  Minister  unusually  concerned  with  the  Church's 
welfare,  it  would  be  possible  for  such  a  Bill  to  be  ever 
carried  again.  No  future  Ministry,  it  will  be  safe  to 
say,  whether  Protectionist  or  Eadical,  will  be  much 
concerned  in  occupying  time  or  arousing  resistance  with 
minor  measures  of  Church  organisation.  Beyond  is  the 
universal  chaos  of  opinion  amongst  those  who  can  at 
once  appeal  to,  and  refuse  to  be  bound  by,  formularies 
stereotyped  into  uniformity  three  centuries  ago.  Each 
particular  reformer  sets  forth  his  gospel,  and  challenges 
his  opponents  either  themselves  to  fall  back  upon  the 



position  from  which  he  has  diverged,  or  to  bring  his 
orthodoxy  to  the  test  and  judgment  of  the  paralysed 
secular  arm. 

The  situation  has  hecome,  in  these  latter  years, 
manifestly  impossible.  A  movement  has  arisen  within 
the  boundaries  of  the  Church,  and  obtained  allegiance 
from  all  parties,  towards  the  forwarding  of  an  internal 
reform.  But,  in  its  actual  progress,  the  movement 
seems  drifting  farther  and  farther  away  from  an  appre- 
hension of  the  hard  realities  of  the  situation.  The  effort 
has  been  directed,  and  rightly,  towards  the  formation  of 
some  kind  of  National  Council,  a  union  of  reformed 
Convocations,  or  some  specially  constituted  Synod,  to 
which  may  be  committed  the  maintenance  of  discipline 
and  adjustment  of  formularies,  and  ultimately  the  control 
of  material  endowment.  But  the  distrust  of  the  various 
parties  of  the  Church,  each  for  the  other,  is  so  profound, 
that  the  preliminary  difficulty  has  not  yet  been  solved  of 
the  constitution  of  such  a  Council,  and  the  qualification 
of  the  body  which  its  members  shall  be  authorised  to 
represent.  The  States-General  once  called  together,  it 
is  feared,  movement  must  of  necessity  originate  : — from 
Council  to  National  Assembly,  from  Assembly  to  Con- 
vention, and  an  ecclesiastical  Reign  of  Terror.  The 
one  party,  therefore,  more  and  more  distrustful  of  the 
religion  of  the  average  complacent  citizen,  has  demanded 
sometimes  that  the  franchise  shall  be  limited  to  those 
confirmed,  who  have  the  right  to  communicate;  more  fre- 
quently, perhaps,  to  those  who  actually  communicate  with 
some  assiduity.  The  faith  which  believes  that  the  State 
will  ever  again  incorporate  in  statutory  definition  a  body 
whose  qualifications  shall  be  that  each  "  shall  communi- 
cate at  the  least  three  times  in  the  year,  of  which  Easter 
to  be  one,"  is  only  surpassed  in  its  naive  simplicity  by 



the  faith  that,  to  a  body  so  constituted,  will  be  handed 
over  the  goodwill  and  fabrics  and  endowments  of  the 
National  Church  of  England.  On  the  other  side  are 
those  who  desire  for  the  suffrage  merely  the  qualification 
of  a  ratepayer,  accompanied  by  a  refusal  to  "  contract 
out,"  and  deliberately  to  repudiate  membership.  Inheri- 
tors, though  unknowingly,  of  the  traditions  of  Hooker 
and  of  Arnold,  these  discern  the  Church  as  a  reflection 
in  another  aspect,  a  more  humane  and  spiritual  aspect, 
of  the  activities  of  the  State,  the  whole  constituted 
people.  They  are  prepared,  in  conformity  with  such  an 
ideal,  to  carry  through  large  modifications.  They  would 
subdue  the  defiant  doctrines  to  the  requirements  of 
modern  thought.  They  would  modify  the  moral  law  of 
the  Church — such  as  the  law  concerning  divorce  and 
marriage — into  harmony  with  the  slow  moving  changes 
of  the  main  stream  of  the  national  morality.  They 
would  strive  to  include  certainly  all  Christian,  perhaps 
all  theistic  or  ethical,  bodies  in  this  national  body. 
They  are  impatient  of  subtle  theological  divisions  which 
separate  sect  from  sect,  and  set  them  thundering  each 
against  the  other.  They  desire  to  work  towards  an 
"  undenominational "  religion  of  a  cheerful  and  not 
too  exacting  character,  which  shall  emphasise  the 
more  distinctively  British  virtues,  provide  the  emotional 
satisfaction  of  a  simple  spiritual  worship,  conduct  the 
work  of  charity,  and  maintain  missions  and  the  standard 
of  morality  and  right  reverence  for  the  accepted  order, 
amongst  the  working  classes  and  the  poor. 

The  one  party  emphasises  the  adjective — "  National" ; 
the  other  the  substantive — "  Church."  The  obstacle  to 
the  one  change  is  the  passive  resistance  of  the  laity ; 
to  the  other,  the  active  resistance  of  the  clergy.  Yet 
it  seems  difficult  to  see  how  movement  can  be  long 



delayed,  and  how  movement  can  proceed  upon  any 
except  upon  one  of  these  two  lines.  Upon  which  of 
these  the  choice  ultimately  falls,  depends  the  character 
of  [that  Church's  future.  The  paths  steadily  diverge 
from  the  present  point  of  junction.  If  the  first  prove 
triumphant,  one  can  picture  the  Church  of  the  future,  a 
separated  body  in  doctrine  and  discipline  and,  ultimately, 
undoubtedly  in  moral  standard ;  becoming  more  and 
more  alien  from  the  main  stream  of  progressing  opinion. 
With  some  endowment  assured,  and  a  great  stimulus  of 
ardour  and  enthusiasm  amongst  its  members,  it  is  safe 
to  prophesy  conspicuous  activity  and  devotion,  a  rising 
standard  of  life  and  obligation.  One  can  discern  a  body 
raising  always  a  banner  in  open  defiance  of  the  newer 
changes  in  moral  law,  and  gathering  round  it  as  a  centre 
all  the  re-actions  from  the  hurried  progress  of  things, 
all  picturesque  rallies  towards  the  worship  of  an  older 
time,  all  to  whom  the  lethargy  of  the  decent  and  the 
ignobly  decent,  and  the  severe  technical  outlook  of  a 
scientific  world,  are  remote  and  hostile.  Ultimately, 
no  doubt,  though  only  perhaps  after  centuries  and 
through  change,  both  on  the  one  side  or  the  other, 
some  kind  of  working  union  can  be  prophesied  between 
this  isolated  Church  on  the  one  hand  and  the  Church 
which  at  present  centres  in  Rome  on  the  other ;  both 
fighting  a  battle  for  preservation  in  the  midst  of  a 
civilisation  entering  upon  that  "  positive  "  stage  which 
is  the  hall-mark  of  old  age  and  coming  death.  Such 
is  the  anticipation  of  that  most  courageous  and  in- 
dividual of  all  social  prophets,  Mr.  H.  G.  Wells ;  who 
sees  in  the  "New  Republic"  the  Catholic  or  Roman 
Catholic  the  sole  form  of  Christianity  surviving,  gather- 
ing round  it  all  the  ardours  and  devotions  which 
still  maintain  a  condition  of  revolt  against  the 



furious   energies  and   purposes   of  the    new    scientific 

There  is,  however,  an  equally  probable  alternative. 
"  The  nation  looked  at  from  the  secular  side  is  the 
State,"  wrote  Bishop  Creighton,  "  looked  at  from  the 
religious  side,  it  is  the  Church  ;  and  separation  between 
the  two  is  impossible."  Development  upon  these  other 
lines  would  herald  a  process  of  adjustment  of  the 
Church's  formularies  and  discipline,  through  violent 
and  bitter  change,  to  the  common  sense  of  the  time. 
One  can  foresee  the  vanishing  of  much  that  appears 
outworn.  Ancient  prayers  and  articles  would  be  thrown 
over  as  out  of  date.  Creeds  would  be  modified  towards 
a  studied  vagueness.  Petition  would  be  adjusted 
towards  conceptions  of  a  reign  of  law  in  nature,  and  a 
time  of  security  in  society.  Such  changes  might  in- 
volve cataclysms.  But  there  is  no  cataclysm  (even  to 
a  clean  sweep  of  the  Bench  of  Bishops,  or  the  driving 
out  of  a  half  or  a  third  of  the  clergy  from  their  livings) 
to  which  the  Church's  past  history  is  unable  to  afford  a 
parallel.  It  is  possible  to  picture  a  Church  of  the  future 
after  the  work  of  "adjustment"  had  been  completed.  It 
would  be  a  Church  in  close  touch  with  the  stream  of  domi- 
nant opinion,  with  a  flexible  adaptation  to  changing  con- 
ditions. It  would  still  be  playing  a  vital  part  in  all 
"  national "  celebrations,  with  a  chaplain  for  the  prayers 
of  Parliament  and  the  pomp  of  Coronation  for  King  or 
President.  One  sees  a  progress  towards  a  compre- 
hensive vagueness,  with  a  diffused  philanthropy  and 
humanitarian  sentiment,  rather  than  any  high  spiritual 
ardour.  It  would  be  much  occupied  in  distribution  of 
alms,  and  communications  from  the  nation  of  the 
wealthy  to  the  differentiated  nation  of  the  poor. 
There  would  seem,  under  these  conditions,  no  inherent 

321  T 


obstacle  to  the  fulfilment  of  the  genial  visions  of  James 
Mill :  with  a  Church  "  without  dogmas  or  ceremonies," 
and  the  clergy  employed  to  give  lectures  on  ethics, 
botany,  political  economy,  and  so  forth,  besides  holding 
Sunday  meetings,  with  decent  dances,  specially  invented, 
and  "social  meals,"  with  tea  and  coffee  substituted  for 
bread  and  wine.  Nor  would  moral  adjustments  fail  to 
follow  the  intellectual ;  and  the  vision  of  "  the  sleeper  " 
in  the  popular  novel,  waking  in  the  days  to  come,  and 
cheered  by  conversation  with  "  one  of  the  subsidiary 
wives  of  the  Bishop  of  London,"  might  not  prove 
entirely  a  fantastic  dream. 

For  if  there  is  one  thing  manifest  in  the  world  of 
thought  to-day  in  England,  it  is  the  steady  if  silent 
collapse  of  the  foundations  of  the  ancient  national  faith. 
The  intellectual  position  once  changed,  it  is  but  a 
matter  of  time  for  the  actions  and  limitations  to  collapse 
also.  The  new  morality  is  already  commencing  to 
regard  as  things  trivial  or  tedious  those  survivals 
which  have  lost  intelligible  meaning,  and  are  merely 
maintained  by  the  inertia  of  the  resistance  of  the 
average  man  to  disturbance.  Many  years  ago 
Matthew  Arnold  had  excited  a  violent  hatred  by 
the  candour  of  his  diagnosis.  "Its  organisations," 
he  asserted  of  the  popular  Protestantism,  "strong  and 
active  as  they  look,  are  touched  with  the  finger  of 
death  ;  its  fundamental  ideas,  sounding  forth  still  every 
week  from  thousands  of  pulpits,  have  in  them  no 
sympathy  and  no  power  for  the  progressive  thought  of 
humanity."  Ardent  desire  for  its  fulfilment  doubtless 
had  ante-dated  the  prophecy.  The  leisured  and  wealthy 
classes  were  to  shed  their  conventional  religion  as  a 
garment  at  one  end  of  the  scale.  At  the  other,  the 



great  mass  of  the  "populace"  were  to  develop  into 
aggressive  and  self-conscious  life,  without  even  having 
entered  the  universe  of  religious  experience.  But, 
between  these,  the  successful  and  expanding  middle 
classes  were  for  many  decades  to  dominate  the  national 
life  and  policy,  and  impart  to  that  life  their  peculiar 
flavour  and  tone,  and  establish  their  definite  type  of 
Puritan  civilisation;  so  that  one  extremity  of  society 
would  grow  ashamed  of  violation  of  its  moral  mandates, 
the  other  afraid.  That  great  tradition  of  austerity  and 
reticence  which,  alarmed  at  the  demand  for  fuller 
existence  and  the  large  curiosity  of  the  Elizabethan 
Age,  had  "  entered  the  prison  of  Puritanism  and  had 
the  key  turned  upon  its  spirit  for  two  hundred  years," 
emerged  at  last  with  the  vigour  of  the  stored- up 
energies  of  generations  of  clean  living.  It  found  its 
qualities  triumphant  in  a  commercial  age.  Never  did 
the  prospects  of  Protestantism  look  fairer  than  in  the 
age  in  which  Arnold  was  announcing  its  dissolution. 
It  had  torn  its  way  into  the  Universities  and  public 
services,  from  which  it  had  been  excluded.  It  had 
re-entered,  it  had  in  a  sense  absorbed,  the  main  current 
of  the  national  life.  It  had  woven  into  the  very  fabric 
of  the  national  system  of  Education  a  religious  teaching 
entirely  acceptable  to  its  desires. 

But,  in  essentials,  we  can  now  see  that  Arnold  was 
right.  In  the  triumph  lay  the  seeds  of  decay.  The 
coming  out  into  the  open  day  had  meant  of  necessity 
the  exposure  to  the  disintegrating  forces  of  the  rain  and 
sun.  The  old  religion,  with  its  affirmations  and  denials, 
of  Protestant  and  of  Puritan  England — the  civilisation 
definitely  dependent  upon  that  particular  outlook  on  the 
world — is  to-day  visibly  dissolving.  Within  a  generation 
its  dominant  doctrines  have  been  quietly  cast  aside. 


Predestination  and  Calvinism,  in  their  unflinching 
forms,  have  practically  gone.  Even  in  Scotland,  with 
its  relentless  logic,  the  true  home  of  its  birth,  they  are 
repudiated  by  the  main  stream  of  the  Presbyterian 
tradition.  In  England  they  seek  refuge  in  the  remoter 
Christian  sects.  And  the  new  Calvinism  of  the  natural 
sciences,  with  its  blind  forces  and  destinies,  more  in- 
exorable and  terrible  even  than  the  ancient  conception 
of  an  inflexible  directing  Will,  has  not  yet  entered  into 
the  schemes  of  any  of  the  popular  religions.  Gone, 
also,  is  that  doctrine  of  Everlasting  Punishment  in  a 
lake  of  material  fire,  to  which  are  immediately  com- 
mitted at  the  moment  of  death  all  those  who  have  not 
accepted  the  scheme  of  salvation.  A  few  years  ago, 
the  most  typical  figure  of  English  Protestantism,  Mr. 
Charles  Spurgeon,  could  thus  picture  to  his  terrified 
audience  the  "Resurrection  of  the  Dead": — 

"  When  thou  diest  thy  soul  will  be  tormented  alone  : 
that  will  be  a  hell  for  it ;  but  at  the  day  of  judgment 
thy  body  will  join  thy  soul,  and  then  thou  wilt  have 
twin-hells,  thy  soul  sweating  drops  of  blood  and  thy 
body  suffused  with  agony.  In  fire  exactly  like  that 
which  we  have  on  earth,  thy  body  will  lie  asbestos-like, 
for  ever  unconsumed,  all  thy  veins  roads  for  the  feet  of 
pain  to  travel  on,  every  nerve-string  on  which  the  devil 
shall  for  ever  play  his  diabolical  tune  of  hell's  unutterable 

From  what  representative  Nonconformist  pulpit  could 
a  similar  statement  be  put  forth  to-day  ?  The  change 
has  come,  and  with  a  rush,  within  a  lifetime. 

And  going  or  gone,  also,  before  the  labours  of  a  per- 
sistent critical  method,  is  that  belief  in  a  literal  and 
verbal  inspiration  of  the  books  of  the  Hebrew  Scriptures, 
which  invested  with  the  glamour  of  a  Divine  origin 



every  tangled  genealogy  ;  and  accepted  esoteric  meaning 
for  every  unedifying  incident ;  and  discerned  the  Mosaic 
code  as  originating  in  the  writings  of  the  finger  of  God 
upon  tables  of  stone,  amid  the  thunders  and  lightnings 
of  Mount  Sinai. 

With  these  recognised  changes  within  the  fold  have 
gone  larger  changes  amongst  those  outside,  who  never 
accepted  with  whole-hearted  conviction  the  affirmations 
of  the  faithful.  To  these  the  abandonment  of  Calvinism 
has  meant  the  practical  repudiation  of  any  directing  will 
in  human  affairs.  The  repudiation  of  the  fear  of  Hell 
has  meant  the  fading  of  any  conception  of  retribution 
for  the  sins  done  in  the  flesh — the  future  apprehended 
as  an  unending  sleep,  or  the  asphodel  and  lilies  of  a 
good-tempered  God.  And  the  work  of  criticism  has 
meant  the  destruction  of  all  authority  in  the  Hebraic 
or  Christian  scheme  of  life,  a  rejection  of  all  evidence 
of  a  special  Divine  revelation.  The  conception  of  sin 
has  changed  from  that  of  "a  monster  to  be  mused 
on"  into  "an  impotence  to  be  got  rid  of";  and 
effort  towards  the  increase  of  enjoyment,  personal  or 
general,  is  set  forth  as  the  foundation  of  the  new  ethical 

These  changes  are  being  assisted  by  the  natural 
development  inherent  in  an  age  of  security  and 
triumphant  material  success.  The  menace  of  social 
upheavals,  ruin,  and  the  breaking  up  of  laws,  sounds 
faint  and  far  away.  In  the  life  of  the  cities  the 
forces  which  make  for  disturbance  —  the  larger  dis- 
quietudes, Nature  and  the  wind  that  blows  from  the 
hills,  the  insistent  presence  of  the  Dead — are  being 
effectively  banished.  To-day  the  older  austerity  is 
deliquescing  into  an  increasing,  if  still  half-timid, 



determination  to  throw  off  the  ancient  restraints.  The 
insistence  on  the  English  Sunday  of  silence  and 
spiritual  exercises ;  the  whole-hearted  condemnation  of 
the  theatre,  dancing,  card-playing,  all  literature  and  art 
unsteeped  in  reticence  ;  the  hatred  of  the  public-house, 
of  betting  and  gambling ;  the  branding  of  the  supreme 
viciousness  of  any  violation  of  the  monogamic  order  of 
society,  or  an  union  unblest  by  Church  and  State — all 
this  belongs  to  a  vanishing  England.  The  march  of 
change  is  not  everywhere  evident.  There  are  occasional 
rallies,  and  fortresses  which  still  present  an  unyielding 
front  to  a  change  branded  as  a  National  Apostasy.  But 
each  year  and  each  day  exhibit  some  subtle  advance,  as 
one  man  after  another  realises  that  the  sanction  has 
vanished  for  some  particular  restraint,  and  that  nothing 
is  keeping  him  from  pursuing  the  desirable  course  but 
the  forces  of  custom  and  routine. 

This  is  not  to  say,  indeed,  that  the  whole  fabric  of 
the  Protestant  religion  is  immediately  collapsing  in 
England ;  or  that  the  great  Nonconformist  bodies,  in 
which  that  Protestantism  is  most  conspicuously  vocal, 
are  about  to  wither  into  nothingness.  It  is  to  say,  on 
the  one  hand,  that  an  increasing  population  is  developing, 
to  whom  the  doctrines  of  Protestantism  are  unbelievable, 
and  the  practical  worship  that  is  dependent  upon  these 
doctrines  repugnant;  on  the  other,  that,  within  those 
bodies  themselves,  there  is  fermenting  a  large  process  of 
change.  There  will  be  "  Independents  "  and  "  Bap- 
tists" and  "Methodists"  at  the  close  of  the  century. 
But  the  Methodism  will  not  be  that  of  Mr.  Hugh  Price 
Hughes,  nor  the  Independence  that  of  Dr.  Binney,  nor 
theBaptist's  faith  that  of  Mr.  Charles  Spurgeon.  Itwould 
be  foolish  to  assert  that  all  is  loss  or  all  is  gain  in  this 



momentous  change.  There  is,  indeed,  a  liberation  from 
restraint,  an  advance  towards  freedom,  combined  with  a 
wider  culture  and  curiosity,  and  a  general  mellowing 
and  humanising  of  individual  life.  But  there  is  a  loss 
also  in  the  dying  away  of  a  contempt  for  pleasure,  and 
a  consciousness  of  purpose  in  the  world,  and  of  the 
infinite  difference  between  good  and  evil,  and  the  in- 
finite value  of  the  human  soul.  Mr.  Burden,  in  Mr. 
Belloc's  story,  the  sturdy  ironmonger  of  Upper  Norwood, 
has  been  the  butt  of  all  the  sharp  wits  and  satires  of  the 
age.  He  is  at  least  a  more  reputable  figure  than  his 
son,  Cosmo,  with  his  weak  thirst  for  ineffectual  plea- 
sure, or  Mr.  Barnett  and  Lord  Benthorpe  and  Mr. 
Harbury,  with  their  cant  of  an  expanding  Empire  and 
Imperial  destinies,  and  their  inner  cheerlessness  and 

Such  are  some  of  the  things  now  in  England  in  peril 
of  change — the  Landed  System,  the  Established  Church, 
the  Popular  Religion.  There  is  opportunity  for  a  states- 
man who  would  rightly  apprehend  the  situation,  and 
definitely  interpret  to  the  nation  the  danger  of  the 
collapse  of  ruins.  Yet,  confronting  present  affairs  and 
the  temper  of  the  people,  one  can  but  emphasise  some- 
thing of  the  almost  forlorn  heroism  of  the  enterprise. 
The  land  implicates  a  thousand  vested  interests,  crying 
if  assailed.  The  falling  feudalism  is  backed  by  the 
wealth  of  the  newer  commerce.  The  increasing  cities 
care  nothing  for  the  ruin  of  rural  England.  In  the 
country,  every  day  weakens  the  forces  essential  to 
reform.  Twenty  or  fifteen  years  ago,  those  vanishing 
villages  could  still  be  kindled  by  some  intelligible  hope. 
The  "  Land  for  the  People  "  was  a  popular  watchword, 
influential,  at  least,  at  successive  elections.  To-day 



another  generation  has  fled  the  fields ;  and  written  all 
over  the  crumbling  buildings  and  passionless  people,  is 
the  apathy  which  is  content  to  wait  for  the  end.  From 
what  unimaginable  crevasses  of  the  city  labyrinths — so 
runs  the  obvious  challenge — from  what  secluded  hamlets 
removed  from  all  the  past  destruction,  are  you  going  to 
lure  forth  the  companies  of  stout  peasants  and  yeomen 
with  energies  adequate  to  the  England  of  your  dreams  ? 
Compared  to  this,  the  work  in  Ireland  was  child's  play ; 
yet  in  Ireland  the  transformation  was  effected  only  after 
one  of  the  fiercest  fights  in  all  history,  an  incredible 
suffering,  an  incredible  devotion  of  a  whole  nation  pro- 
longed through  twenty  years.  What  species  of  "  Land 
League"  or  united  "Nationalist"  party,  fighting  for 
Agrarian  Reform,  is  probable  or  possible  in  the  England 
of  to-day  ? 

Nor  is  the  question  of  the  Establishment  any  more 
hopeful.  Here  is  an  organisation  to  be  torn  up,  whose 
roots  reach  deep  down  into  the  basis  of  society.  A 
thousand  hazardous  questions  immediately  arise.  What 
of  the  future,  of  endowments,  of  fabrics,  the  care  or 
ownership  of  cathedrals  and  village  churches  ?  From 
what  material,  with  what  qualification,  are  you  to 
construct  the  living  Church  that  is  to  remain  after  all 
your  efforts  ?  What  again  of  the  great  Dissenting 
bodies,  and  their  claim  to  represent  at  least  a  vigorous 
portion  of  the  religious  life  of  the  nation  ?  What  of 
adjustment  of  formulas  and  obligations,  of  marriage 
laws,  Thirty-nine  Articles,  or  the  Apostles'  or  Athauasian 
Creed?  Here  is  a  task,  compared  to  which  the  mere 
denouncing  of  the  Concordat  in  France  appears  but  a 
little  thing;  a  task,  indeed,  which  might  appear  only 
possible  in  the  white  hot  fires  of  revolution. 

Yet  in  all  these,  as  was  said  at  another  time  in  peril 


of  change — standing  still   is   the  one  thing  more  im- 
possible than  going  forward. 

Ingenious  efforts  are  often  attempted  to  disentangle 
historical  parallels  to  the  present  in  the  past,  and  from 
these  to  emphasise  confidence  or  disquietude  concerning 
the  future.  Writers  have  recounted  the  story  of  these  latter 
days  in  England  in  the  language  of  Gibbon  concerning 
the  dying  Roman  Empire.  Here,  also,  can  be  found  agri- 
culture declining  at  home,  and  all  the  people  crowding 
into  the  capital ;  fed  from  the  corn  ships  of  Alexandria 
or  Argentina.  Here,  too,  is  the  decay  in  the  ancient 
austerities  and  pieties ;  the  sudden  and  intoxicating 
consciousness  of  a  supreme  greatness,  of  an  Imperialism 
exacting  tribute  from  the  four  corners  of  the  earth  ;  and 
the  breeding  of  a  parasitic  race  of  little  street-bred 
people,  demanding  before  all  things  food  and  pleasure : — 
free  meals  and  professional  games  and  vicarious  "  little 
wars."  The  menace  is  not  lacking  also,  as  in  the 
famous  forebodings  of  the  Koman  historian,  in  the  rise 
of  shadowy  and  inscrutable  nations,  the  barbarians  in 
the  cold  North.  In  the  East  are  the  yellow  races 
awakening  from  slumber.  In  the  West  is  the  newest- 
born  child  of  all  the  hardiest  of  the  peoples.  Each  may 
be  able,  not  only  through  the  old  methods  of  actual 
invasion,  but  in  the  new  methods  of  trade  competition, 
to  strike  a  fatal  blow  at  the  heart  of  Empire. 

Others  have  found  a  similarity  between  the  com- 
mencement of  the  sixteenth  and  the  commencement  of 
the  twentieth  centuries  in  England.  In  the  former 
as  in  the  later  day  a  Church,  heavily  weighted  with 
the  burden  of  the  things  of  a  dead  past,  is 
struggling  towards  internal  reform.  A  new  learning  has 
suddenly  rolled  back  the  dim  horizons  and  boundaries  of 



thought,  and  opened  limitless  vistas.  And  in  those 
days  also,  a  moment's  breathing  space  was  given  before 
the  changes  in  the  world  of  thought  became  translated 
into  the  world  of  action,  and  the  new  knowledge  crashed 
into  the  chaos  of  the  Reformation. 

Others,  again,  have  found  much  that  the  observer 
would  do  well  to  study  in  comparing  the  England  of 
to-day  with  the  France  of  the  years  immediately  pre- 
ceding the  Revolution.  An  increasing  burden  of  national 
expenditure,  and  the  development  of  an  absentee  land- 
lordism, there  hastened  the  coming  of  change.  A  kind 
of  general  atrophy  of  governing  power  amongst  the 
governing  classes  had  ensured  the  failure  of  the  forces 
of  resistance.  An  improvement  of  economic  condition 
in  a  momentary  "Age  of  Gold  "  had  brought  hope  to 
those  dim  and  submerged  classes  among  which  hope 
rarely  comes.  And,  indeed,  one  can  realise  that  if  only 
hope — hope,  that  most  dangerous  of  all  revolutionary 
forces — were  once  to  penetrate  among  the  poor  of  the 
cities  of  England,  some  explosion  of  elemental  forces  might 
boil  up  beneath  the  thin  layer  of  the  ordered  society  of 
to-day,  and  again  amid  the  furnace  flame  reveal  the 
"  heights  and  depths  which  are  still  in  man." 

A  deeper  examination  in  each  case  will  show  the  im- 
possibility of  thus  interpreting  the  future  from  the 
lessons  of  the  past.  Never  before  has  met  together  that 
particular  combination  of  forces  which  in  any  particular 
age,  in  their  contact  and  interaction,  are  creating  a  new 
world.  The  new  world  of  the  future  we  confront  with  as 
little  knowledge  of  its  possibilities  as  was  possessed  by 
any  prophet  of  the  past.  In  the  time  immediately 
before  centuries  of  quiet  men  foretold  the  beginnings 
of  a  universal  desolation,  the  coming  of  the  twilight 



of  the  gods.  On  the  verge  of  vast  and  shattering 
cataclysms  men  proclaimed  that  never  was  the  sky 
more  serene,  the  continuance  of  security  more  sure. 

Examination  of  the  actual  present  can  but  emphasise 
evidence  of  equilibrium  disturbed.  The  study  of  the 
past  can  but  guarantee  that  through  rough  courses  or 
smooth,  heedless  of  violence  and  pain,  in  methods 
unexpected  and  often  through  hazardous  ways,  equi- 
librium will  be  attained. 


The  substance  of  much  of  this  book  has  appeared  in 
the  "  Contemporary  Review,"  the  "Independent  Review," 
the  "Commonwealth"  the  "Speaker,"  the  "Pilot," 
and  the  "  Daily  News."  I  am  indebted  to  the  courtesy 
of  the  editors  for  permission  to  make  use  of  it  in  this 


University  of  California 


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Return  this  material  to  the  library  from  which  it  was  borrowed. 

MAY  0 1  2007 

Date  Due 

762     6 

Library  Bureau  Cat.  No.  1137 

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